By Justin Sondel
Niagara Gazette — New light will soon be shining on the Niagara Falls Veterans Memorial in Hyde Park.
Dave Fabrizio, a member of the Niagara Falls Veterans Memorial Commission, recently announced that the New York Power Authority has approved the purchase of a state-of-the-art lighting system for the memorial.
"In addition we are planning on putting a fountain out in the middle of the lake," Fabrizio told city lawmakers during an update earlier this month. "It'll spray about 120 feet in the air with purple and red lighting."
Once the electrical for the lighting system is installed, which will cost between $60,000 and $70,000, construction crews will be able to begin pouring concrete around the memorial, Fabrizio said.
"Our plan is all kind of coming together, though it's very slow," Fabrizio said.
The commission is aiming to have the lighting system installed by the end of October, but will have to wait until the spring to pour concrete.
"It's getting too late in the season to pour concrete," Fabrizio said.
Stone has been spread at the site and it is now walkable. The commission hopes to be able to start opening the memorial to the public once a week, Fabrizio said.
"It's still a construction site so we want to keep it closed," Fabrizio said.
Barring any unforeseen hold ups, the commission is planning on holding a dedication ceremony on Memorial Day weekend next year.
Much of the work and materials for the memorial are being donated. The engineer's reports estimated the cost of the first phase of the project at $1.7 million, but because of in-kind donations, that phase should end up costing the commission around $1.2 million, Fabrizio said.
"It has taken us a little bit of time to get where we are," Fabrizio said. "But we're going to complete this project definitely by Memorial Day. It'll be done."
The memorial, which is the exact dimensions of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Washington, D.C., will have the names of Niagara Falls soldiers who never returned from battle engraved in the wall. The total cost of the project is estimated at just under $4 million.
Ken Hamilton, also a member of the memorial commission, said that he hopes the site will be accessible to the community by Veterans Day this November.
"To have gotten the project where it is in Niagara Falls is an accomplishment," Hamilton said.