Greendale — When selecting a location for the proposed Greendale Veterans Memorial, a designated committee looked for three characteristics — the memorial would have to be highly visible, have room for parking and have potential for being an easily accessible tourist destination.
After multiple considerations, the Greendale Veterans Memorial Committee chose the intersection of Broad Street and Southway as the ideal setting to honor local veterans.
The property, which sits across from Greendale High School's newly renovated baseball field, belongs to the school district, however.
Although the Greendale School District has not yet made any formal action regarding the memorial, the committee has begun fundraising for the project, said Bill Kewan, a civilian member of the committee.
"The school district owns the land, and we're still in negotiations," Kewan said. "… It's not just military members that want this memorial. Whatever your status, this is the type of memorial Greendale wants and needs."
The idea to create a veterans memorial arose in 2012, during the planning stages for Greendale's 75th anniversary celebration in 2013.
Kewan, vice president of the Greendale Public Celebrations Committee, said he originally posed the concept for a memorial to Tim Baranzyk, post commander of the American Legion Post 416.
As it turned out, the local American Legion post had been discussing a potential memorial with the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 10519 in Greendale for several years.
A committee was established, and members sought resources to help.
Harold Krueger, a local Legionnaire and draftsman, prepared a blueprint design for the memorial. Students of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee's School of Architecture and Urban Planning helped prepare the landscape design. Other major "in-kind" contributors include GZA GeoEnvironmental Inc., R.A. Smith National, The Sigma Group and Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance.
"We worked in stages and steps, but we're really close for this memorial to reach fruition," Kewan said.
The proposed memorial design calls for six granite panels to represent the five branches of United States military service — the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard — and the merchant marines.
A 50-foot American Flag will be placed in front of the memorial.
The most unique feature of the memorial, however, will be the sheltered kiosk placed in the very center of the panels, where Greendale veterans will be allotted a brief biography in a digital archive.
The kiosk will be reserved for local veterans dating back to World War II and current service members who received anything other than a dishonorable discharge. Those recognized in the kiosk must have an affiliation with Greendale.
Kewan said the proposed design, from a bird's eye view, replicates the baseball field across the street, but Baranzyk said it looked more like a "stealth fighter" plane.
"I don't think there's any other (memorial) design like this in Wisconsin," Kewan said. The 8-foot panels "would not overpower the site. We want the memorial to blend into the area."
"It's going to stay simple," Baranzyk added.
The relatively basic design would allow for easy maintenance and help preserve a portion of the property's green space, Kewan said.
The memorial could be used by school groups and veteran organizations, he said, and could also mark the finish line for village parades.
"I think it's a win-win for all people concerned," Kewan said.
But a modest memorial, constructed of primarily granite, concrete and block, doesn't come cheap. The estimated cost for the memorial ranges between $220,000 and $250,000.
The committee held its first lunch fundraiser May 31 at the Greendale American Legion Post 416.
Approximately 250 attended the fundraiser, Baranzyk said.
"I was encouraged by the number we had … but next time, we'll do even better," he said.
The committee also hopes to host a Casino Night fundraiser sometime in the fall.
In the mean time, the group is collecting donations and selling bricks for the memorial through its website, GreendaleVeteransMemorial.org.
Although the kiosk is designated only for military associated with Greendale, bricks can be purchased — and dedicated to — any military personnel, local or not.
Those who wish to send a check can mail it to American Legion Post 416 at 6351 W. Grange Ave.
Questions can also be addressed to the local VFW post at (414) 421-8621.
The committee hopes to begin constructing the memorial by next year, Kewan said, "but we can't do anything until we have all of the money ready."
Nor can the committee do anything until a deal is made with the school district.
School district officials have spoken with committee members, but formal action by the school board may not take place until later this month.
And what if the district ultimately decides not to authorize the proposal?
"This memorial was specially designed for this location," said Jay Chadwick, committee secretary and a Greendale Legionnaire. "We'd have to start all over."