sinz park

Towamencin supervisor Jim Sinz looks over a portion of Firehouse Park near Bustard Road in Towamencin after a plan was developed to add a memorial for veterans to that park in 2010.

File Photo

TOWAMENCIN >> Township officials are looking for local veterans interested in reviving a long-dormant township committee, and leading an effort to create a new memorial for those who have served.

“A committee was established in 2007, but has been dormant for the past several years. The township would like to reactivate the committee this summer,” said supervisors Chairman Chuck Wilson.

According to Digital First Media archives, the first incarnation of the township’s Veterans Committee was established with the purpose of renaming and reconfiguring Firehouse Park, located on Bustard Road near Rittenhouse Road, into a permanent memorial for veterans. A flagpole and memorial were constructed in that park in the mid-1990s, and a visit by the Nashville chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution to the township in 2007 to see the former home of their namesake, Revolutionary War Gen. Francis Nash, prompted about three years of discussion and planning.

By summer 2010, the veterans committee had developed a “Veterans Park Master Plan” calling for a new pavilion, trail system, and memorials honoring the service of local veterans who fought in major conflicts, with an estimated price tag of roughly $1 million. In the years since, interest waned as funding was never formally allocated and work proceeded on widening the Northeast Extension of the Pennsylvania Turnpike directly adjacent to that park.

With that work now complete, and a proposal this spring to install new basketball hoops in the parking lots of Firehouse Park, supervisors (and veterans) Rich Marino and Jim Sinz were tasked with making suggestions to revive that committee, and the two reported their findings Wednesday night.

“We were recommending nine members, with staggered terms: three for three years, four for two years, and two for one year. You’d have a staggered start, and then three-year terms from there on out,” Marino said.

Members of the committee should be township residents, the two suggested, proposing it be made up of a total of nine members, with five as a quorum and either three or five of the members as active duty or retired miliary.

“Limiting it to just the veterans wouldn’t be a smart thing, because a lot of people have families that have veterans in them, and they care about vets as much as anybody else, and might have some great ideas for us,” said Sinz.

Tasks for the committee could include recommending plans and programs to support local veterans, managing programs such as displaying banners commemorating local vets, organizing commemorations on holidays like Memorial Day, Flag Day and Veterans Day, and developing ways to reach out to veterans who suffer injuries or disabilities or are new arrivals, Marino told the board.

The committee could also give staff updates on local or regional veteran-related events, and help publicize events and programs on the township’s website, newsletter, and social media channels, while acting as a liaison to local veteran organizations, and working to finalize plans for the veterans park, where events could then be held.

Wilson said, in light of the plans for basketball hoops at Firehouse Park and proposed new development near the Towamencin Village Shopping Center, the committee could also be in charge of deciding how to convert the original plan to a new location, on township-owned space near the Tennis-Lukens cemetery off Allentown Road.

“One of the things this committee will look at is moving that veterans park from that location, over to the Tennis-Lukens cemetery, where the township has open space,” Wilson said.

“The developer may provide access for us, and possibly some other improvements, so there’s access to that area, and we think with the Revolutionary War cemetery that’s there, that’s probably a better place for that park - and certainly a more serene setting than on that busy Bustard Road, with the noise from the turnpike,” he said.

Sinz said the two also thought the committee could have members or liaisons to local organizations including the Hatfield American Legion post and Lansdale VFW, since those groups could connect the township to veterans they may not otherwise be able to reach, and vice-versa.

“The person from the legion would not necessarily have to be a (Towamencin) resident. They wouldn’t be a voting member, more of a liaison, to have them interact with our events, and us interact with theirs,” Marino said.

Supervisor Dan Littley said he was glad to hear of the new responsibilities for the committee, and said he thought it could provide a needed resource for veterans returning from overseas deployments.

“We do have a number of Iraq War and Afghanistan veterans in the township. Some are suffering from physical problems, and some have reached out to the township to be part of the old veterans committee. It’s about time,” he said.

Sinz said the two have already heard from several veterans who have expressed interest, and said once the new responsibilities for the committee are formalized, word could go out through all township communication channels. Township Manager Rob Ford said he would clean up the draft with the added feedback from the full board, and an updated resolution formally outlining the committee’s terms and responsibilities could be on the board’s May 23 agenda.

Anyone interested in participating can contact Ford at 215-368-7602 or by emailing rford@towamencin.org, and those interested are asked to provide their military background and contact information. The supervisors’ next meeting will be held at 7:30 p.m. on May 23 at the township administration building, 1090 Troxel Road; for more information visit www.Towamencin.org.

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