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Publish Date: 10/20/2005

Flagless park upsets veterans
City working to find options for Old Glory

LONGMONT — Veterans groups are fuming over the lack of a U.S. flag at a new $1.8 million Longmont park named for a local soldier who died fighting in Vietnam.

The city named its new park at East Mountain View Avenue and Deerwood Drive to honor U.S. Army Pfc. Stephen Day, 22, who was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star.

The park honoring Day has, according to the city, a “new teen skate area and BMX/mountain bike area, basketball court, sand volleyball court, multi- use play field, off-leash dog exercise area, water spray fountain for the kids (and adults) to play in and some beautiful art pieces (done by Joe McGrane) throughout the park.”

What it doesn’t have is an American flag.

Veterans groups say that’s a slight that must be fixed. And the city appears to be responding quickly to their concerns.

“Most memorials put together include a flag,” said Jim Gates, a member of Longmont’s American Legion Post 32 and chairman of the statewide Legion’s Americanism committee. “It’s just not proper to do one without the other.”

About 25 veterans attended Tuesday night’s Longmont City Council meeting to show their support for installing a flagpole.

City parks managers say the park was designed and built without a name, which was attached shortly before it was dedicated July 26. And because the park wasn’t originally designed as a memorial to Day, a flagpole wasn’t budgeted, said parks planner Paula Fitzgerald.

To properly display the flag, it must be either lighted at night or taken down at sunset. That ends up costing more than one might think, Fitzgerald said.

“Generally, flagpoles increase our maintenance duties and ongoing costs, which in this day of tight budgets have to be carefully managed,” Fitzgerald said.

She added that the veterans groups have offered to provide a a regular supply of replacement flags, which would help reduce the city’s costs. Most city parks lack flagpoles, although civic buildings, including fire departments, have them.

The city spent $403,000 to buy the land for the park, $128,700 designing it and $1.3 million building it. Complete costs are not yet available, and Fitzgerald said she is looking to see if there is any unspent money that can be used for a flagpole.

Gates and members of other local veterans organizations say they have already helped the city install flagpoles in several parks, including Jim Hamm Nature Area, named for a Longmont native and pilot shot down over Vietnam in 1968.

And they say that although their mission is to help living veterans, they are willing to chip in to erect a flagpole and light. Fitzgerald said she is researching how much that would cost.

“We will be pursuing this installation as a high priority,” she said.

Gates spent much of Wednesday morning on the phone with both Fitzgerald and with aides to city manager Gordon Pedrow. He said he’s happy with the assurances he received.

“I couldn’t be more pleased,” Gates said. “We seem to be headed in the right direction. I can hardly wait to spread the news. If they put up a pole, we’ll supply the flag.”

Trevor Hughes can be reached at 303-684-5220, or by e-mail at thughes@times-call.com.

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