By Bob Uphues
A firm hired as a consultant to the Riverside Landscape Advisory Commission won't be involved in designing future improvements to the veterans' memorial in Guthrie Park, Village President Ben Sells announced on Dec. 14, reversing an earlier directive from the board in November.
During the summer, Living Habitats, which was brought on by the Landscape Advisory Commission in 2016 to help plan the restoration of Swan Pond Park, delivered three options for improving the war memorial in Guthrie Park.
While two of the plans kept the memorial in the park, members of the Landscape Advisory Commission chose a third option – moving the memorial to an area in front of the Riverside Township Hall.
Members of Riverside American Legion Post 488, which has donated $5,000 toward improving the nearly century-old memorial and is in line for $2,000 more in grant funding from the U.S. World War One Centennial Commission, objected to the move.
The village board in November agreed to keep the memorial in Guthrie Park and recommended Living Habitats work with the Landscape Advisory Commission on a new design, which would keep the memorial in its present location.
Now, however, the plan for improving the existing memorial has fallen to a small committee that includes Landscape Advisory Commission Chairwoman Cathy Maloney, Riverside Public Works Director Edward Bailey and Village Trustee Scott Lumsden. Both Lumsden and Bailey are veterans of the Armed Forces, and Lumsden in particular advocated for leaving the memorial in Guthrie Park and keeping improvements to a minimum.
"I'm seeing a very minimalist approach to changes to the veterans' memorial," said Bailey.
Those changes likely will include stabilizing the heavy boulders that hold plaques inscribed with the names of Riverside's war dead, improving landscaping and painting the flag pole.
While there is no official deadline for making the improvements, the goal appears to be getting the improvements done in time for Memorial Day in 2018. The war memorial was dedicated on Memorial Day in 1921, to honor three Riverside natives who died in the service of the country during World War I.
"I fully expect to be able to be done well in advance of Memorial Day," Bailey said.