City Council approves Veterans Plaza design; acknowledges concerns of Garden Market organizers

Veteran Ron Clyborne speaks to the Edmonds City Council, with the proposed Veterans Plaza design as a backdrop.
Ron Clyborne speaks to the Edmonds City Council, with the proposed Veterans Plaza design on the screen behind him.

In front of large contingent of local veterans, the Edmonds City Council Tuesday night unanimously approved a design proposal for a new Edmonds Veterans Plaza memorial to be built outside of the City’s Public Safety Complex — but not before acknowledging concerns that it could impact operation of the Edmonds Museum’s annual Garden Market.

Edmonds veterans speaking in favor of the proposal by Seattle-based architecture firm Site Workshop included Jim Blossey, commander of the Edmonds-based Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 8870, who told the council the new memorial is about “honor, remembrance and sacrifice. All of us know veterans who have sacrificed, some who have paid the ultimate sacrifice.”

Vietnam Veteran Michael Reagan, best known for his work to sketch portraits of fallen soldiers, said it’s important for veterans to have a place to reflect on and remember their fallen comrades, noting it is “something that helps their healing.”

Fellow Vietnam Veteran Ron Clyborne noted that the design was unanimously chosen by a committee of veterans and community members after reviewing 12 proposals submitted during a design competition. “We look forward to the approval of this design that truly honors the men and women who have served,” he said.

However, Clyborne — a long-time civic and business leader — added that “the Veterans Plaza Committee is here to work with the museum in any way we can. The bottom line is, we want this to be a win-win for all and everyone in the community.”

The main area of concern, from the market organizers’ perspective, is the plaza design’s inclusion of a solid wall, incorporating a series of water features, that would highlight the five different branches of military service and include the names of local veterans. The wall would run the full length of the parking area facing Bell Street, and market organizers fear it would effectively shut off the plaza from the parking lot, which could disrupt Garden Market operations.

Edmonds Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Director Carrie Hite assured the council that she would work with museum representatives to find a solution that supports the Garden Market, which operates from early May through mid-June in the Public Safety Complex parking lot at 250 5th Ave. N. (The Garden Market is a smaller version of the museum-sponsored Edmonds Farmers Market, which takes over after the Garden Market closes but runs on closed city streets — along 5th Avenue from Main at the fountain to Bell and east up Bell Street around Centennial Plaza.)

One idea would be to move the Garden Market from the parking lot to the Bell Street triangle area located to the south. Hite noted that the city in the past has not favored the idea of closing Bell Street for the Garden Market, which is why the smaller market has been limited to the Public Safety Complex parking lot. However, both Hite and market representatives said that using Bell Street could be a workable option if the location is adequate for what the museum needs — something that will be determined after measuring the existing and proposed spaces.

Also speaking during the presentation was Site Workshop landscape architect Brian Bishop, who said his firm’s goal in designing the project was “to provide a simple and timeless design that is going to be embraced by the community.” In addition to the memorial wall and water feature (which will use recirculated water), the design includes a memorial garden and individual “seating cubes” to provide “an opportunity for pause and rest,” Bishop explained.

The estimated cost of the Veterans Plaza project is $395,405, nearly all of it to be funded through private donations — although Hite said the committee has asked Site Workshop to identify areas for cost savings, such as possibly using lower-cost materials. The City Council approved $10,000 in the 2015 City of Edmonds budget to start the site design.

The council also:

– held a public hearing on the Draft Land Use Element for the city’s 2015 Comprehensive Plan Update, although no one signed up to speak.

– unanimously approved a proposal for installing an ATM machine outside of City Hall.

– approved by a 4-0 vote, with Councilmember Joan Bloom abstaining and Councilmember Lora Petso absent, the final plat for Shaw Lane development located at 8620 218th St. S.W. Bloom — a driving force behind the establishment of the City’s Tree Board — abstained from voting after asking numerous questions about why trees weren’t retained on the property.  City Attorney Jeff Taraday noted that the tree retention question was not within the scope of the council’s decision to approve the plat, since preliminary plat approval had already been granted by the City Hearing Examiner — and suggested that the issue be taken up with the Hearing Examiner during his annual review or during future contract negotiations.

  1. Congratulations Ron Clyborne and all of the people who worked so hard to make this happen. I know this project is near and dear to many of the veterans here and I’m so happy to see this finally come to fruition after so much hard work.

  2. I believe that council member Bloom showed good form by including the reasoning for her decision to abstain on the plat approval vote. Of course it’s her prerogative on how to vote, it does seem that a no vote would have been a better fit with her explanation. At any rate, brief explanations should accompany abstentions imho.

  3. Will the new Veteran Plaza contain the names of all veterans already on existing plaques in front of museum? Or is this just a generic memorial for all veterans? Reason I ask because my uncles name is on the World War II memorial. Thanks for honoring our Vets.

    1. Yes, your uncle’s name ( and other names not presently recognized) will be included in the new Veterans Plaza in a manner TBD. And yes, the Veteran’s Plaza will be a generic memorial to honor and remember ALL veterans, past, present and future. Thanking you in advance for your support of this most meaningful project.

  4. As a member of Edmonds VFW Post 8870, I am please to see this project moving forward. We have a lot of work to do to raise the necessary funds, but I am confident it will happen. Congratulations to Ron Clyborne and his entire committee!

  5. As a Vietnam war veteran, I applaud all efforts to bring a Veteran Plaza to Edmonds. I fully agree with Michael Regan that the Plaza will be “something that helps their (all veterans) healing”. I appreciate the hard work to get this far and the win/win attitude. Thank you Ron Clyborne and his committee.

  6. As a member of Edmonds VFW Post 8870 I am grateful to the City Council for approving the Veterans Plaza. This is another fine example of what makes Edmonds a wonderful “home town” that does not forget it’s own. Thanks to all who have worked hard to bring it this far.

  7. Kudos to Ron Clyborne and the volnteer commitee for working so hard on this Memorial. Three cheers also to the Museum folks for finding common ground to fit both these important community endeavors into our city. When the Veterans Plaza is finished, everyone can be very proud of this effort to truly honor our veterans.

  8. What a heartwarming way to express the respect, honor and gratitude that our veterans so richly deserve. This is a great project and no doubt will receive community support to insure its enactment. And appreciation for the City Council’s decision to get the project rolling with their contribution. Thank you Ron, Jim, Mike and the committee for their tireless work to bring the Veteran’s Plaza to the community.

  9. WELL DONE to all who worked to get this project going. All of us Viet Nam vets remember the scorn with which we were met upon returning to the U.S, thank God that attitude has more or less gone, and it will be great having a local memorial recognizing the sacrifices made by all vets and their families.

  10. How are local veterans, especially those having served post-9/11 going to be identified and recognized? I would assume all vets who call Edmonds home will have their names added.

    1. The Edmonds Veterans Plaza (EVP) goal is to HONOR & REMEMER all veterans of all services past present and future as well as create a peaceful place for community awareness & involvement, contemplation & closure , emotional healing & wellness, etc. The only names that will definitely be included as a part of the plaza memorial are those men & women from Edmonds that were KIA or MIA during a time of conflict including post 9/11. FYI …there will also be donation naming opportunities (i.e. pavers, seating cubes, plaques etc.) for a veteran, family member or friend to honor the memory of a past veteran or honor a living veteran or present member of the armed forces. And those opportunities will be open to Edmonds residents as well as all veterans past & present. The EVP is at present and ongoing work in progress with designs moving forward and a fund raising campaign effort in progress. There will be additional press releases and information available in the next few months regarding the donation based naming opportunities. Our goal is to complete the community supported public/private EVP project by Veteran’s Day 2016.

  11. Good day and thanks so much to all who are involved in bringing this worthy project to fruition. How does one go about providing names of local veterans for consideration for the memorial wall, or otherwise support with purchase of pavers? My father, recently deceased, was a Veteran and long-time Edmonds resident. I am also a veteran who lived in Edmonds when I left for the service and have returned to Edmonds after retiring.

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