Future of Memorial Wall Unknown

Information reprinted with permission of the Courier Times, local newspaper New Castle, Indiana www.thecouriertimes.com

Future of memorial wall unknown

Posted: Wednesday, July 27, 2016 6:00 am

Addressing the deteriorating memorial wall in Baker Park was a priority item for the New Castle Parks Board this year, but a lack of funding is going to delay action for the foreseeable future.

The wall, located north of shelter house No. 1, is constructed of brick and mortar with a concrete cap. The cap is crumbling, the bricks are flaking and the mortar is falling out. Affixed to the wall are nine metal plaques inscribed with the names of former residents or loved ones of local residents who paid to have the namesakes attached. 

With available funding earmarked for restroom and security upgrades in Baker Park as well as the construction of a new skatepark proposed for a site just north of the municipal swimming pool, replacing the brick wall with something more durable just isn’t possible this year, parks board president Patty Broyles has said.

Board vice-president David Nantz agreed.

“We were going to try to do something this year, but we got the estimates back and they were a little higher than we anticipated,” Nantz said.

The board hoped to tear down the existing wall and replace it with a more durable material, like granite. That is still the long-term plan, but in the meanwhile board members are considering an alternative.

A firm decision has not been made, but the most likely possibility is taking down the existing wall and displaying the plaques now on it elsewhere.

“We’ve talked about taking the plaques that are there and putting them on a bench of some sort and adding some nice planters or something along those lines and making a nice area for them for now,” Nantz said. “Then, once we get the funding we need, we’ve talked about building a new wall out of granite or a similar material and doing something really nice. Right now, it’s just a matter of getting the funding in place, because to repair it would cost almost as much as replacing it.”

It has been suggested by some that the existing wall be repaired and left in place. Board members and Mayor Greg York have stated in the past that option isn’t feasible given the condition of the structure as it now stands. Local contractor Chris Hanson of Cornerstone Restoration agreed.

At the request of The Courier-Times, Hanson visited the memorial wall this week. His assessment was that it’s not worth trying to save.

“In my opinion, to restore [the wall] is just going to be too costly,” he said. “Using a material that would stand up to the weather makes more sense, because in the long run you’re going to have less cost in repairs and maintenance. My recommendation is using marble or granite would be beneficial and more cost-effective moving forward.”

“We want to give that area some dignity,” Nantz said. “That way the people who have a name up there will have a nice memorial that they can be proud of. In the time being, we want to do something to at least give them some dignity because the wall right now is in pretty sad shape.”

Creating a theme for the wall has also been discussed. Mayor York has pointed out it lacks focus, noting it’s not a wall to memorialize veterans, for the parents of children who passed away or for anything in particular. The board has, in the recent past, agreed with that assessment. Broyles has suggested the new wall, when constructed, should include a blessing of some sort etched across the top of the front of it and that it be promoted so more Henry County families are aware it’s available as a way to remember and memorialize loved ones.

No decision on exactly what will be done, or when something will be done, has been made. The wall is likely going to be a matter of discussion at future meetings of the board.

The New Castle Parks Board meets at 5 p.m. the first Monday of each month in council chambers on the second floor of the city municipal building, 227 N. Main St. The meetings are open to the public.