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Spatz proposes memorial walkway at viewpoint

The Dalles City Councilor Dan Spatz has come up with the idea to further honor veterans at Kelly Viewpoint while capitalizing on the scenic setting.

Instead of adding a wall of names to the existing veterans’ memorial at the site, he wants to create a walkway that is 5 or 6 feet below the pavement level to the north of the parking lot. A granite wall would be built on the south side of the path and lists the names of local residents who have served in the military or their family members.

Spatz said not only would the project enhance the viewpoint, it would complement the existing memorial erected by the Mid-Columbia Veterans Memorial Committee.

He decided to take a look at what options were available after Councilor Carolyn Wood and other citizens expressed concerns in March of 2013 about having a wall constructed behind the memorial. Wood and others felt the wall would further block what they described as the “best view in town.” The memorial committee’s plan was to fulfill requests from area residents to add names to those already inscribed on bricks next to, and on, the monument. They also wanted to pay respects to two Congressional Medal of Honor recipients, one from The Dalles and the other from Hood River.

“I went up to look at the site and then began asking if there was another way that we could approach the project,” said Spatz. “This is one of the best scenic locations in the gorge and it has been largely unplanned.”

He unveiled a rough drawing of his vision at the Feb. 3 goal-setting session and Mayor Steve Lawrence agreed that the concept should be pursued.

“I think we need to think about how many monuments we need,” said Lawrence, a former Army officer who earned decorations for valor in Vietnam. “Building a new structure concerns me, I don’t know where it stops.”

After briefing the council, Spatz discussed the possibilities with Gary Pratt, president of the memorial committee and Vandee Mauser, vice-president.

“I really like this idea, I really like the bigger picture look of it,” said Pratt after reviewing the rough sketch.

Spatz said the pathway would be ADA accessible with a 12-15 foot width and extend from a little piece of public ground to the east, that could also be developed enough to provide a viewpoint, to the western edge of the parking lot. He said a parapet at the western corner could display interpretive signage about the gorge and history of The Dalles.

After being given tentative support from Pratt and Mauser, who have to take the idea back to other members of the group for consideration, Spatz said that he would next approach Northern Wasco County Parks and Recreation District with the proposal.

The property along the viewpoint is either owned by the city or park district so Spatz said everyone would have to be on the same page to pursue the project.

“We are all going to have to work together to look for grants and other funding sources,” he said.

If money can be found, and all parties are in agreement on a final plan, Spatz would like to see artist and architect Maya Lin asked to design the walking path.

“It’s ambitious and it’s down the road a ways — it’s not imminent by any means — but it’s something to think about,” he said.

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