A movement to have a veterans memorial in Sugar Grove is picking up steam.
Supporters of the idea, including members of the local American Legion post, showed up at this week's village board meeting to advocate for the idea. Proponents think the empty lot that used to house the West Hotel (also known as the Old Hotel) would be a good place.
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The village board directed staff to work with residents on a concept.
Trustee Kevin Geary got the idea last year, while driving around on his job as a real estate agent. "One day it just kind of struck me that a number of the communities I had driven through had veterans parks (and that Sugar Grove did not)," he said.
Geary suggested during his campaign for re-election that perhaps volunteers could design, build and maintain a memorial on the site of the old hotel, on Main Street near the Burlington Northern-Santa Fe railroad tracks. He envisions various community groups, including volunteer gardeners, helping out.
"This thing has taken off like wildfire," he said, with Legionnaires urging him last week to get the village moving on it.
The village bought the property in the 1990s with a Kane County grant for historic preservation, intending to preserve the hotel, Geary said. It ended up tearing the hotel down due to significant damage.
Geary thinks a memorial still qualifies as a preservation activity, since it will preserve the memory of men and women who served the United States. He envisions a wall and brick pavers engraved with the names of local servicemen and women. It would be "kind of a living monument," said Geary, who is the father of a Marine stationed at Camp Pendleton in California. "This would just be a great honor to them."
Village President Sean Michels said other possible sites include a park near the Sugar Grove Community House, or the Sugar Grove Township Cemetery. Snow Park would be nice because it already has electricity and parking, unlike the hotel site.
Geary doesn't rule those out, as well as a site at Cross Street and Route 47, but said there may be issues with a state highway right-of-way at Cross, and state regulations for the cemetery. Michels said the village would want a private group, such as the Legion, to come up with a formal plan and a maintenance agreement.
"The village is not in a position to make (financial) contributions," he said.