When the town council cuts the ribbon and re-opens Bayside Park on Tuesday, a piece of the project the council and town manager promised would be part of the park will not be there. There will not be a memorial to local veterans.
While there was a lot of discussion, since the project began, that some sort of memorial to local veterans would be erected at the park, there was no actual follow-through. It’s now clear as the park gets set to open to the public next week that there will not be anything for residents to see that pays tribute to veterans.
The town has been saying they were waiting to hear back from Forrest Critser, who the town says volunteered to come up with a memorial idea for the council and town manager to consider for the park. Critser is a local veteran and also a member of the Local Planning Agency. We spoke to Critser this week. He was under the impression the town had already created something for the veterans in the park and had no further information. It’s clear the ball was dropped on this one.
In a Facebook post on the Beach Talk Radio page Thursday, councilman Dan Allers said the following: “I can not speak for my colleagues, but I can assure you the tribute for our veterans has not been forgotten about. And the site has been designed to accommodate that as soon as discussions are had and a decision is made on what the memorial will look like.”
It’s not really clear why there have not been any discussions to this point when a memorial has been mentioned at nearly every meeting about the park along the way. The town said they were going to include a memorial for veterans in the park and the bottom line is they didn’t do it. There is, however, a nice plaque embedded in a column commemorating the current town council and town manager.
John King, who’s running for one of the two open seats on the council this November suggested changing the name of the park: “Why can’t we name it Veteran’s Memorial Bayside Park. Then work on how we honor those KIA, MIA and all those on Fort Myers Beach who served our Country.”