Sykesville's Town Council voted unanimously this week to approve a final design for a monument to honor local military veterans.
"It certainly is time for this and we really approve the town's proposal for this and we stand behind it 100 percent," said Merrill Sumey, a Sykesville resident and past commander and 47-year member of American Legion Sykesville Memorial Post No. 223.
Sumey has been active in helping plan the memorial and has attended about a dozen meetings over the past year.
The design for the new Sykesville Military Monument was rendered by SBE Live Green Landscape Associates, a Reisterstown architectural landscape firm. The design incorporates elements from earlier proposals submitted by students at the Maryland College Institute of Arts, in Baltimore, as well as suggestions by local residents.
Under current plans, the memorial will be constructed with private money raised through donations, and by selling commemorative bricks to residents wishing to honor a family member, loved one or friend who served in the military.
The memorial, under the plan, will include an approximately 25-foot by 40-foot patio, with a curving "memorial path." There will also be benches and lighting.
Most important, it will be built on the sloping front lawn of the Town House, offering prominent visibility and access from Sykesville's Main Street.
Central to the design, which will include landscaping with flowering cherry or dogwood trees, shrubs and low-growing ornamental grass, will be five-pointed star design on the patio itself, with each of the five points containing a bronze star recognizing each of the five branches of theU.S. armed forces.
The Sykesville town logo will be prominent in the center of the star.
Sykesville Town Councilman and Council President Frank Robert, who has been one of the driving forces behind the project, said the monument will be built in phases, as money is raised. He said that while town employees will be used for some of the labor, no public money is being spent on the project.
"It's just the right time to do this, with all our guys and gals in Afghanistan and all the people in our neighborhoods who have family members over there," Robert said. "You have to really commend these people who have stepped up to the plate. It's just the right thing to do."
Robert said $2,700 in donations has already been raised for the construction of the monument, which is estimated to have a final cost of about $12,000.
Robert and Aaron Raines, of Live Green Landscapes, the lead architect for the project, said additional enhancements and features may be added to the memorial as more money is raised and more bricks are sold. Robert said the commemorative bricks will probably be sold for about $100 each.
The town is expected to break ground on the project when about $9,000 has been raised to cover the first phase of construction.
The Sykesville Military Monument has generated a lot community interest. About 20 residents showed up for the March 12 evening council meeting, nearly filling the small chamber.
Among them was Sumey, who said the four separate organizations within the American Legion —the active American Legion, the Ladies' Auxiliary, the Sons of the American Legion and the Legion Riders, an American Legion motorcycle club — have already raised about $1,000 for the monument.
"I'm sure a lot of our individual members will also be buying the memorial bricks," he added.
Other residents offered suggestions for the monument, such as incorporating local stone into the design and where to place the benches and how to included. One resident suggested that American prisoners of war and missing in action should also be acknowledged in some fashion, and another wanted to include a mention of the Civil Air Patrol.
The monument project was launched about a year ago by a monument committee headed by Robert and Sykesville Main Street Manager Ivy Wells. The committee considered nine different design concepts submitted by residents at the committee's request.
Three more proposals were submitted by students at Maryland College Institute of Art and two additional concepts were submitted by SBE Live Green Landscape Associates, which incorporating elements of previous submissions into its final rendering.
"We've gone through a lot of designs, taken the best of each of them and tried to get a consensus, but above all to show our respect for the people we want to honor," Roberts added. "That's the most important thing."