CHAPEL HILL- The Chapel Hill Town Council endorsed a plan to build a veterans memorial at the Chapel Hill Memorial Cemetery, but council members say they want more details on how the site will be maintained.
Rusty Edminster grew up in Chapel Hill and remembers when Chapel Hill High used to be on Franklin Street. Like many in his class of 1962, he was called to serve in the Vietnam War. On Monday he asked the Town Council to approve a proposal from a group of his fellow veterans to honor all of Chapel Hill’s military service members.
“I urge you to approve this memorial, because it’s a permanent way for the Town of Chapel Hill to say thank you for the time that veterans and their families sacrifice for the service of not only this community but also the United States,” said Edminster.
A committee of veterans has been working since 2009 to site and design a veteran’s memorial in Chapel Hill. The council on Monday unanimously approved an initial proposal to locate the memorial in the Chapel Hill Memorial Cemetery off of Fordham Boulevard.
The proposal would transform an existing brick plaza into a tree-lined, stone-paved courtyard with five monuments, each representing a branch of the U.S. Military.
The project will be funded by private contributions. But although support for the plan ran high, many on the council said they wanted more details about the cost of maintaining the memorial, which will be located on town-owned property.
Parks and Recreation Director Butch Kisiah told the council organizers are hoping to raise enough money to cover long-term maintenance.
“One of the ideas with the fundraising is to not only raise enough money to build the memorial, but to have a maintenance fund that would go with it,” said Kisiah. “Right now we’re looking at around $300,000 to make all of this work.”
Matt Czajkowski, the only veteran currently serving on the council, said he’d like to see the town chip in as well.
“If the Town of Chapel Hill can’t at least contribute to the maintenance of this beautiful memorial, then I think that’s shameful,” said Czajkowski. “Surely we can find a little bit of money at least to participate in contributing to the maintenance of this.”
The council voted unanimously to endorse the plan, paving the way for a fundraising campaign led by former council member Jim Merritt and UNC’s Associate Vice Chancellor Bruce Runberg.
Click here to find out more about plans for the Chapel Hill Veterans Memorial.