By Robert Kettle
Last year ahead of the school levy vote for Memorial Stadium we had a site visit which showed the Memorial Wall to be in a terrible and unacceptable state. We had some VFW social media posts to raise awareness. We also started some engagement with the city, Seattle Center and importantly the school district’s athletic department about the state of the memorial. Fortunately, we received a positive response from everyone and the facilities team at the school district worked to clean up the memorial from the sad state it had gotten into.
Where are we now? As you know the school levy passed. This means the stadium was going to get replaced basically like for like. The city however in partnership with the school district which owns the property adjacent to Seattle Center appropriated funds to improve the new stadium from where it would be otherwise and better incorporate it into Seattle Center who will operate the new stadium with/for the school district.
The stadium as we understand it will maintain its current east-west orientation. The new stadium will have better sight lines to the city and specifically elements of Seattle Center which it will be better integrated with. Other elements of the plan will give the stadium greater flexibility to host a wider range of events. Regarding planning and construction timelines the goal again as we understand it will be to have the project complete before the World Cup arrives in 2026 and after that our 250th anniversary on July 4th. Our position now is support the stadium project overall and specifically engage on the Memorial Wall.
The Memorial Wall at the stadium will be, under current plans, at its same location. There doesn’t seem to be much more with respect to plans for the memorial at the moment. It is vital for our VFW post, other veteran service organizations (VSO), and other community organizations generally to make input into the planning process as it starts right now in 2023 and not at the end of the process through a public comment period. Input will be along the following points:
– Protect the Memorial Wall during the demolition and construction process. If the memorial wall needs to be moved in order to protect it then it should be moved until it can be safely placed back at its location.
– Update the lighting and water features of the memorial and perhaps adding other features such as landscaping.
– Create an appropriate sized and dignified area in front of the memorial to support remembrance ceremonies to include space for color guard and other groups participating in such events at the memorial.
– Place an information board aside the memorial explaining how the memorial came to be and who it memorializes.
– Create some sort of screen (concrete, steel, wood, vegetation, or some combination of those four) between the memorial and its observance area and the school district owned parking lot to the east of the stadium/memorial.
We will be also interested in any other efforts on the east side of the project in the area of the memorial towards 5th Ave. N. and the Gates Foundation to the east and MoPop to the south.
Thank you for your support so far. We will look to engage again with the various stakeholders in the school district, city, and Seattle Center and may ask you contact them as well to express your support for a fully renovated Memorial Wall. This is what those memorialized deserve.