The first project by the Edmond Historical Society & Museum after it was established in 1983 for the Centennial of 1889 is likely to go away, said Dan O’Neil. The mayor said the bricks were promised to be perpetual in memory of Edmond first families, to honor veterans who trained at the Armory (45th) — many who served in three wars.
O’Neil said he was unhappy with plans to remove the bricked area containing inscriptions of 89ers as well as common folk who made Edmond a great place to live. The land was dedicated to the city for a park in the early 1890s.
The city is now undergoing plans to modernize Stephenson Park. In June 2018, the city council voted 5-0 to create a 16-member Veterans Memorial Review Task Force to consider placement of a memorial at Stephenson Park or another location in Edmond. Council members also approved the concept master plan for the park’s redesign.
There exists a 1992 veterans memorial at Stephenson Park with scores of names leading up to it that are etched in bricks but many of the names have eroded and are barely visible, said Craig Dishman, director of Parks and Recreation, in 2018. More recently a long-term veterans committee was appointed to review the brick work.
“They (the 1889 centennial committee) worked on this for a long time and they really got it right. The plaza is reasonably in great shape for something 30 years old,” O’Neil said on Thursday.
O’Neil said the area needs updates in terms of the flag poles and maybe some benches, and more historically appropriate signage. The brickwork honors veterans and the first citizens of Edmond, O’Neil said.
“It honors the businesses that helped build our community at that time. And to tear that up is just totally disrespectful. This in my mind is holy ground,” O’Neil said.
City spokesman said an Edmond City Council Stephenson Park Project Workshop is planned for 3:30 p.m. Monday at the Edmond Historical Society & Museum, located at 431 S. Boulevard. Additionally, the city council will consider the approval of a new site plan for the park at 5:30 p.m. Monday at the Council Chambers, located at 20 S. Littler Ave.
The city states on its website: “During the process of design services, several park amenities have been proposed to be removed, altered or replaced which has caused some concern from the public. The rocket ship slide, drive in front of the museum, brick plaza, art piece ‘Peace’, and basketball courts have all been at the top of this list.”
City spokesman Casey Moore verified that the veteran’s memorial entitled “Peace” by the late Edmond artist Rich Muno is currently scheduled for removal. There has been discussion by veterans groups to relocate the bronze sculpture. O’Neil said there is a plan to make a plaque with all the names and move the statue in front of the museum or to the American Legion.