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Archway planned at Gainesvilles Rock Creek Veterans Park
0501VETS
An archway showcasing each of the U.S. armed forces will soon be built at Gainesville’s Rock Creek Veterans Park.

An archway showcasing each of the U.S. armed forces is planned at Gainesville’s Rock Creek Veterans Park.

“The reason we’re putting it up is a lot of people don’t know where the park is,” said Jerry Peck, member of a Vietnam War veterans group that meets regularly in Gainesville. “We’ve talked to a lot of veterans, and they don’t know anything about the park.”

The concept design for the archway shows it featuring the emblem representing each of the service branches, plus the “You are not forgotten” symbol for prisoners of war and troops missing in action.

Construction could start soon on the arch, which will be at the entrance to the park off West Academy Street and Northside Drive.

Peck said the plan is to hold a dedication ceremony on May 20, or Armed Forces Day.

The structure will have stacked-stone columns and lighting.

“And we’ve got sponsors who gave us a certain amount of money, and we’re going to try to put up something … to show our appreciation to them,” Peck said.

The effort began in July 2016, when veterans from different groups spoke to the city’s Parks and Recreation Board, said Melvin Cooper, Gainesville Parks and Recreation director.

Since then, the city’s design firm and construction contractor for citywide signage designed the sign, he said.

The project’s cost is $24,000, with $10,000 from the city and $14,000 from veterans.

The park has been a work in progress for several years, with war memorials, benches and walkways dotting its landscape. It also features an amphitheater and has served as the site for veterans ceremonies.

“We’ve got some more stuff after (the arch goes up) that that we’ll be doing,” Peck said. “There’s another section we want to work on.”

He added, with a laugh: “One of these days, we’ll have that park done and we’ll start throwing money at something else.”

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