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Massive military memorial proposed Niagara Falls veterans envision monument that would attract visitors to Hyde Park

A group of veterans tasked with creating a new memorial to residents who have served in the military or who died in battle hopes it will become a destination that will attract visitors to the city.

A master plan unveiled during a City Council meeting Monday night showed a sprawling memorial on 6 acres in Hyde Park that would include full-sized replicas of three famous military monuments.

"This is on the scale of an Arlington or a national monument," said David A. Fabrizio, chairman of the Niagara Falls Veterans Memorial Commission.

Members of the commission have been working to plan the new memorial for months but have no firm details about what it would cost to build.

David L. Kenyon, a landscape engineer from Wendel Duchscherer Architects & Engineers, said determining the price of the project will be the next step so that members of the veterans commission can begin to raise funds for its construction.

The focal point of the memorial would be a model of the Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington National Cemetery that would have the names of more than 960 Niagara Falls residents who have died in battle since the Civil War inscribed on it. It would be covered with an archway and flanked by two walls that would bear the names of all military veterans from the city.

The main monument would be connected by a path and a signature bridge to full-sized replicas of the Three Soldiers monument for the Vietnam War in Washington, D.C., and the Iwo Jima monument in Arlington, Va.

The Niagara Falls memorial would be placed in the corner of Hyde Park near Pine Avenue and Hyde Park Boulevard and extend around a small pond in that section of the park.

"It's going to be a very large memorial," Kenyon said. "We wanted to situate it on the site so that it was a solemn place, a place of reverence, not a play park."

Kenyon described the project as an "evolving memorial" that could be updated with the names of future veterans.

Members of the commission do not want to change the grand scale of their plan, but would likely construct the memorial over time in phases as funds are available, Kenyon said.

Fabrizio said he is not concerned about the commission's ability to raise money for the project.

"Not one bit," Fabrizio said.

The group hopes to obtain grants or other funding for its construction.

The city designated $7,000 last year to hire Wendel Duscherer to help develop the master plan for the memorial. The commission has also received a commitment of $10,000 from the Niagara County Legislature.

Kenyon said three shelters in Hyde Park would have to be moved to accommodate the new memorial.

In other business Monday, the City Council approved an $800,000 settlement with a man who was disabled when a city police cruiser driven by Patrolman Sean Dunn collided with his vehicle at Seventh and Niagara streets in December 2004. The driver of the other vehicle, Ronald Meyer, and a passenger, Joanne Meyer, sued the city in November 2005 for the crash.

The city will be responsible for paying $750,000 from its self-insurance retention fund; $50,000 will be paid by the city's excess liability insurance carrier, Corporation Counsel Craig H. Johnson said.

The Council also authorized the city to spend up to $50,000 to hire LiRo Engineers Inc. of Buffalo to help the city's Engineering Department on various projects. The city did not seek bids for the work, but chose LiRo after it submitted a proposal.

Mayor Paul A. Dyster said a bidding process was not necessary because it was a "professional service."

The city has also paid LiRo $14,000 a month since April 2008 to oversee the construction of a new courthouse and police headquarters on Main Street.

The city last month fired City Engineer Ali Marzban after less than five months on the job and is in the process of hiring a new engineer.

e-mail: djgee@buffnews.com

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