An ambitious project to create a tribute to veterans and the military received a significant push forward this week.
During a special meeting on Monday, the Board of County Commissioners approved two critical components for the “Honor Walk” project at Veterans Park at Beacon Hill.
Commissioners approved the low bid for the substantive concrete work and approved the purchase of stone monuments that will pay tribute to each branch of the military.
The concrete work, awarded to North Florida Construction at a cost of $122,199, will provide the foundation for the Honor Walk.
Included will be concrete pads for the flag poles, an American flag will fly on a 70-foot pole while the flags of the military branches will be displayed, on 50-foot poles.
This was an important step because the flag poles were delivered late last year, just a week or so before Hurricane Michael.
“This gets us started,” said Don Butler, a member of the BOCC-appointed committee spearheading the project. “I would think you’ll see flags flying pretty soon.”
The concrete work will also provide the foundation of the 5-foot wide sidewalk around the Honor Walk, the rotunda, entrance and central pentagon as well as pads for benches.
The monuments for the individual branches of the military, granite on a black polished rock base, will cost just under $50,000.
The concrete work was bid out under the BOCC as the park is a county park.
Butler said the committee had looked at many options for the monument but the ones chosen were deemed the most appropriate and aesthetically pleasing.
The BOCC has committed $100,000 to the project, but thus far the committee has raised the funds needed for work to date.
The Gulf County Tourist Development Council also contributed to the project, purchasing the flag poles.
“I think it is going to be a magnificent site for people to see as they come into the county,” said Administrator Michael Hammond.
The memorial brick pavers, part of the fundraising, will be laid at a later date, Butler said, as fundraising continues.
The “Honor Walk” will fill an 80-foot-by-140-foot area along the bluff at Veterans Memorial Park, which offers some of the finest views of the ocean in the county.
The BOCC broke ground on the project in May 2018 after approving conceptual plans and establishing the citizens committee.
At each point of the monument’s central pentagon anchored by the American flag, the 8-foot-by-3-foot monuments for each branch of the military will stand, each inscribed with the Gulf County veterans who “paid the ultimate sacrifice,” in battle.
There will be seating behind the flags and several areas for quiet reflection and brick and concrete walkways will thread through the memorial.
The entire area would be surrounded by a 4-foot high fence with pillars spaced along the length of the fence.
Walkways will extend 20 feet from the center of a monument in opposite directions.
In the central pentagon will fly the American flag, flying 15 feet higher than the flag in the Port City Shopping Center.
The other five poles will display the flags of the military branches, Army, Marines, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard.
“Their majesty will be (a highlight) to those traveling along U.S. 98 and the Gulf Coast,” said Rodney Herring, another member of the committee.
The poles, designed to exceed coastline engineering standards, came from Bell Signs out of Orlando.
“The Honor Walk will complete the recognition of veterans in this park, recognition which is well-deserved,” said George Duren, another member of the project committee.
“This will help remind everyone our freedoms have been willingly paid by our veterans. “We want people to drive by on (U.S. 98) and look up and say Gulf County respects it veterans. Our veterans deserve to be recognized.”
To learn more about fundraising efforts or to donate go to: http://www.VeteransParkHonorWalk.org.