by Graham Sturgeon, co-editor

CONSTRUCTION IS SET TO BEGIN in the spring, as the Durand Parks and Recreation Board is set to complete the final phase of the city’s Veterans Memorial Park project in time for Memorial Day. As shown in the architectural drawing that was created by Durand City Council member Jeff Brands, the new additions will include an 11-foot obelisk, a stand-alone bronze donor plaque, and a second bench. (Courtesy Photo)

The Durand Parks and Recreation Board met Wednesday, Jan. 25 to finalize the Phase III plans for the city’s Veterans Memorial Park, which is located at the intersection of N. Saginaw, Livingston, and Oakland streets. The third, and final, phase of the project will include an 11-foot, five-sided obelisk, along with an additional bench and a stand-alone bronze sponsor board. Phase III construction will begin in the spring, with the project to be completed before Memorial Day on May 29.

The project was initiated by a local veteran, Dennis Goul, and ground was broken at the site on Memorial Day in 2014. Since then, Durand VFW Post #2272 Commander Dennis Martin has teamed with the city’s parks and recreation board to lead the charge towards completing the privately-funded project, with many local veterans groups, businesses, and charitable groups supporting the effort along the way.

As of Jan. 11, the community had donated more than $93,000 to fund the construction of the park, with the first two phases of the project requiring just over $80,000 of that budget. With Phase I came the park’s featured pieces; the memorial wall and accompanying headstones, along with adjoining flag poles and personalized brick pavers. Phase II additions included a metal perimeter fence with interspersed brick columns and a grand brick park entrance, as well as a bench and a brick walkway that runs throughout the park.

The granite obelisk will be the centerpiece of the park. The five sides of the obelisk will be adorned with bronze medallions crafted into the shape of the insignia of the five branches of the U.S. Armed Forces. Each medallion will be accompanied by the motto of the branch it depicts, such as “Semper Fidelis” with the U.S. Marine Corps medallion.

The materials needed for Phase III will cost at least $31,000, according to the parks and recreation board, so the group is kicking off the final round of its fundraising campaign. They have a little more than $12,000 in the project fund, and the goal is to raise $13,500 before the end of August. The newly-raised funds will then be used to acquire a matching Michigan Economic Development Corporation grant, which would add an additional $13,500 to the project fund. The remaining funds will be used for any additional project costs, and to ensure the perpetual care of the park.

The project has been funded through the sale of personalized pavers and fundraising events, in addition to individual donations. Project organizers have held golf outings and a softball game, and they have been the recipient of the proceeds from the annual Chicken BBQ, which is put on by a collaborative group comprised of the Durand Lions, AmVets, VFW, Moose, Rotary, and Eagles organizations.

This year, the parks and recreation board is planning two golf outings, two softball games, and they will know in February if they are to again receive the Chicken BBQ proceeds. Persons can still purchase personalized pavers, which are $100 apiece and can be ordered on the city of Durand website,, or by visiting Durand City Hall or the Durand VFW. Pavers must be ordered and purchased by April 15 to be installed by Memorial Day, but paver sales will continue into the future.

Durand’s Veterans Memorial Park Project to Be Completed in 2017 was last modified: January 30th, 2017 by Karen Elford