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City Council suggests further talks about 10th Mountain Division monument

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WATERTOWN — It appears that a group of north country residents will have to choose a site other than one in Thompson Park where it wanted to erect a monument to commemorate the approaching 30th anniversary of the 10th Mountain Division.

On Monday night, the Watertown City Council showed no interest in erecting the monument just north of the park’s playground. Instead, it seemed to like another area in the city-owned park where a water tower once stood, near the park circle flag or near Mayor Butler Pavilion in the J.B. Wise parking lot downtown.

Two weeks ago, the group approached the city about locating the monument in the center of the park between the park’s playground, the historic pavilion, a stone bandstand and the city’s water tower.

The monument would commemorate the 30th anniversary of the 10th Mountain Division’s reactivation. It also would honor the 70th anniversary of the allies’ victory in Europe and the end of World War II.

“I think you want it to be visible,” Mayor Jeffrey E, Graham said, noting that Thompson Park is not that busy during the winter.

Besides visibility, council members suggested the group should consider the availability of electricity, potential engineering issues at the site and whether handicapped-accessible walkways would have to be built.

After the 20-minute discussion, council members suggested the group meet with the city’s engineering office to iron out some of those issues before returning to discuss the project further with them.

Michael T. Plummer, one of the organizers of the project, said that while the group still preferred the site it had selected, it will consider the suggestions.

Mr. Plummer said the group is convinced the community would support the approximately $150,000 project, which would be paid for through a fundraising campaign.

“I’m not sure it’s in the public consciousness,” Mr. Graham said, adding the organizers need to gain the support of residents before proceeding with their plans.

Since proposing the project two weeks ago, the group met with representatives from the city’s Planning Department to look at possible other sites. Whittling down from 15 sites, it brought a list of seven to Monday’s council meeting.

They included: tower square and near the park circle flagpole in Thompson Park; Mayor Butler Pavilion; Veterans Memorial Walkway; Whitewater Park and Bicentennial Park at the Alex T. Duffy Fairgrounds.

Organizers have been considering a monument consisting of four 8-by-10-by-1-foot granite slabs that each would have a plaque honoring the 10th Mountain Division, the reactivation and its history since World War II. The fourth slab would remain empty until the 10th Mountain Division’s 50th anniversary in 2034.

Colorado-based sculptor Susan Grant Raymond, who created the Fallen Warriors Monument on Fort Drum, has been asked to design the plaques. Organizers hope the monument can be finished by May 1.

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