By KEVIN CHIRI
Slidell news bureau
SLIDELL — A year after the city survived a mild controversy about whether a city memorial to veterans should be moved to Heritage Park, work is underway to expand and improve Veteran’s Memorial Park, located next to the tennis courts on Second Street.
Slidell Councilman Lionel Hicks, who represents that district, is heading a project that will change the entire look and accessibility of Veteran’s Memorial Park.
Last week, the memorial built by Bogalusa Monuments, was moved to its new location that will now take advantage of the entire space available at the corner of the block bounded by Cleveland Avenue and Sgt. Alfred Drive. Previously the monument was close to the actual intersection and allowed only a small amount of room for any sizeable crowd.
The monument has been moved all the way to the back of the green space, opening up the veteran’s park to allow larger events there.
It was a year ago that a group of local veterans complained about the lack of visibility for the park. After surviving consideration by the City Council to move it to Heritage Park, Hicks promised to improve the look of the veteran memorial.
“This will open things up and make it much nicer for us to honor all our veterans,” Hicks said.
A group of Vietnam Vets who want to be involved in the improvement plan are creating a “Veteran’s Memorial Park Welcome Sign,” that will be erected at the corner, while the Slidell Garden Club will landscape the new location for the memorial, just as they have maintained the landscaping there for years.
“We would be happy to have any veterans help us with this project, and we certainly appreciate the way the Slidell Garden Club has always kept this looking so nice,” Hicks added.
The city has helped out with some in-house work for the new cement base for the monument, and so far only about $1,000 has been spent for the work. Local businessman Mike Pike has helped direct a sketch for the park’s new look, that will include sidewalks and lighting. Hicks said he hopes to asphalt some of the property in the future.
Funding for the work to come is from the Community Development Block Grant, which is also funding some minor home repairs for local low-income seniors.