BY KAREN GERHARDINGER | MIRROR REPORTER — With a unanimous vote on February 5, Whitehouse Village Council approved nearly $750,000 toward the construction of Veterans Memorial Park and two downtown streetscaping projects that will be completed by the end of summer.
The park, which will recognize veterans, service members killed in action, active-duty military and first responders, could be ready by Memorial Day, said administrator Jordan Daugherty.
The downtown streetscaping project includes new concrete, stone walls, landscaping and trees planted in silva cells – a type of base that permits the tree to thrive in an urban condition without damaging infrastructure. Initially, the village split the streetscaping into two phases, defined by the Wabash Cannonball Trail, but bids for the southern phase came in too high.
Instead, Daugherty recommended pairing both phases with the park project to create a larger, more attractive bid package and budgeted $750,000.
B&J Concrete bid $518,000 for the streetscaping and $232,500 for the Veterans Memorial Park, including a fountain, pavilion, parking lot and flagpoles.
In addition, council approved an additional $35,000 for Armed Forces tablets and $56,500 was also approved for landscaping and an irrigation system, to be installed during a community workday with donated materials and services.
Daugherty noted that Destination Whitehouse Inc. has raised more than $100,000 in the past three years, lowering the cost to the village. The nonprofit organization is also entering into a loan agreement with the village to continue raising funds to repay, over three years, the $35,200 for a fallen soldier battle cross statue, signage and plaques.
Mayor Don Atkinson said that plans for the park began in 2015 with an ordinance signed by then-mayor Angie Kuhn and adopted by Whitehouse Council, allowing the allocation of development funding for the Veterans Memorial Park. The formation of Destination Whitehouse to seek private contributions gave residents a chance to have ownership of the park and offset the cost to taxpayers, he said.
“There’s been an unbelievable amount of work and dedication on the part of the schools, businesses and residents,” he said. “I’m proud of the reverence this village demonstrates to our police, fire and veterans.”
Atkinson also applauded Kuhn’s foresight to decide to put the park on the main thoroughfare of downtown, not at the back of a cemetery.
“No one can come through Whitehouse without seeing it,” he said.
The community will also have an opportunity to support the park through the purchase of memorial bricks that can be engraved and placed into the ground at the park.
The package approved by council also includes some additional work on areas while B&J Concrete is on-site doing streetscaping and the park. That includes cleaning up the sidewalks and area around what’s known as Ted’s Marathon; creating a ramp in front of Village Pizza in the same materials as the new sidewalks; and installing a parking area where a house is being torn down next to the park.
In 2018, the village bought a home across from Local Thyme for $80,000 with the intent of tearing it down and using the land for additional parking and green space.
During the meeting, council also:
• Heard that a Bowling Green State University student, Christine Chase, is an intern in the police department this quarter.
• Thanked Johns Manville for the donation of an ATV to be shared between Whitehouse and Monclova Township fire departments, for use in off-road situations.
• Heard that Police Chief Mark McDonough has been working with Ardagh management about preventing semi-trucks from stopping on SR 64.
• Discussed the first report from the fire district feasibility study, which is a compilation of each department’s assets and personnel. More information on suggestions and whether a combined fire department is feasible will come later, said Fire Chief Joshua Hartbarger.