A form of honor

entrance to the Veterans Memorial Park

An elegant arch graces the entrance to the Veterans Memorial Park, which recently underwent a $2.1 million renovation project. CITY OF FORT PIERCE PHOTO

City creates new look for park dedicated to those who served in armed forces


When things are created, it is often with a plan for form over function or the opposite, function over form. Veterans Memorial Park, the place that recognizes those who served, was ripped up and given a whole new life last year by the city. The completed project, which is a balance of form and function, was dedicated on Veterans Day, Nov. 11, 2016.

The project, overseen by the city’s engineering department, has added a beautiful and environmentally sound area along the Indian River Lagoon. Situated in front of the River Walk Center, formerly the Fort Pierce Community Center, the park features an impressive arch at its entrance and a small lake with fountains.

Local artist Anita Prentice was recruited to decorate concrete benches with colorful mosaics representing the six branches of the U.S. armed forces: Army, Air Force, Marine Corps, Navy, Coast Guard and Merchant Marine. There are two other benches; one with the POW-MIA insignia and the other featuring a bald eagle. The engraved monuments, which were at the site prior to the new project, were moved to the northwest corner of the 8-acre property and maintained in their previous condition.

Working further on the form, the city had two large black granite walls installed honoring county residents who made the ultimate sacrifice in World War I, World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Gulf War, the Afghanistan War and the Iraq War. City officials worked with members of local veterans organizations in designing the walls, which were constructed with the help of staff at Riverview Memorial Park and Treasure Coast Monument.

“We worked with the veterans on this,” assistant city engineer Tracy Telle says. “We had a representative from every post to see what they wanted to see (at the park). They were wonderful to work with.”

While a lot of work went into the design, or form, of the park, the city engineers were also busy with the environmental function. There had been two drainage pipes for the 44-acre basin adjacent to the park that deposited storm water runoff into the Indian River Lagoon on either end of the property. With the help of storm water improvement funds and some other discretionary funds to cover things that were not a part of the drainage system, the park was engineered and completed in time for its dedication.

A state appropriation of $100,000 obtained by Rep. Larry Lee Jr., D-84, was used for lighting, the benches and the flags, Telle says. The South Florida Water Management District and the Department of Environmental Protection (both state and federal) assisted with funds for the small lake and its connected drainage elements. The city also used Art in Public Places funds to beautify the park.

The flags at the east end of the park represent the six military branches, with the addition of the POW-MIA flag and the American flag. Telle says the flags, which fly 24-7, were purchased with discretionary funds

The small lake was constructed carefully for environmental concerns and the area is lined with pervious pavers to help improve the cleanliness of the runoff water.

“It’s a completely lined lake,” Telle says, “so we don’t lose water to the water table. In addition, the aerated fountains add oxygen to the water, which helps to lower the nutrient levels in the water and aids in the removal of organics and nitrogen.”

The fountains are lighted with three bulbs that have a red, white and blue filter on them. The filters are interchangeable and can be changed to pink during months dedicated to fighting breast cancer, Telle says, as an example.

In the completion of the form of the park, graceful aluminum railings were created to line concrete walkways that cross over the lake and form the entrance under the arch on North Indian River Drive. These painted metal railings were designed and created by local artisan Tim Kuhn of Kuhn Fabrication.

But, back to the function, which was the major motivating factor for this project: to help protect the Indian River Lagoon. The project is engineered to divert the runoff from the 44-acre basin into control structures that send the water into four bioswales, landscaped elements in the park designed to allow the solids to settle before the runoff flows into the deep-cell lake for further settlement and treatment. After the treatment, the runoff is routed out through a control structure and discharged into the lagoon.

‘We will be measuring the pollutants upstream and then measuring them again before it runs into the lagoon,” Telle says, “to see how it is working.”