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Fayetteville Wants to Finish State Veterans Memorial Project

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FAYETTEVILLE — The land has been put aside and the project approved, but plans for a State Veterans Memorial Park are not moving forward.

The 53 acres of county land has been allocated to honor North Carolina veterans who served during wartime. The idea has gotten a great response, but 2-and-a-half years after the project was approved, it is still not funded.

The Memorial Park would be the first of its kind in the state -- a walking time line commemorating all of the conflicts which North Carolina veterans have served.

"I think people who served in all the wars before us paid a big price for us to have our freedom, and somehow they should be recognized for that in the state of North Carolina," says Henry Holt, who was part of the original commission chartered to pick the site.

Veterans from across the state chose the land donated byCumberland Countyand approved by Governor Hunt in January 1997, but nothing has happened since.

Now, the Fayetteville Area Convention and Visitors Bureau is stepping in. They want the $8 million project funded and built by 2002.

"It's been a miscommunication between Veteran Affairs and the local delegation," says Doug Traub, president of the FACVB. "Each has assumed the other one was taking care of getting this project consummated."

Traub wants local lawmakers to draw up the paperwork and theGovernorand theDepartment of Veterans Affairsto ante up the money.

Leaders believe the park, just minutes from I-95, would be a state attraction. Not just by the 130,000 veterans of Cumberland County, but all those who travel the interstate and visit thenew Airborne Museumopening next year.

Senator Tony Rand says he would certainly help push this through, but that he thinks funding needs to be requested by the Department of Veterans Affairs because it is not a Fayetteville project, it is a statewide project.

The Department of Veterans Affairs says it is going to bring the proposal to two veterans' councils for their approval before making any requests to the legislature.