For decades, Arthur Anderson's Peace Park Committee and the Rockford Park District Foundation have been working on a veteran's memorial in Loves Park. But what's coming down to make way for the park?
The Arthur W. Anderson Peace Park honors local veterans from the five wars of the twentieth century.
It covers seven acres. That's also the number of houses that have been torn down to clear the way for it. One more is about to come down, leaving five standing in the way.
"We've let people know we are interested in opening the view to the park and aquiring the homes along Riverside Boulevard and Walker," says Elaine Harrington, of the Rockford Park District.
Memorial organizers say the backhoes and bulldozers aren't forcing anything out but the earth. No one has to leave until they're ready to move. But some neighbors say they're not sure they'll ever be ready.
Frank Lazansky lives right next to the memorial. He says, "We just moved in about a year ago and we like it here because it's got the big park behind us for our kids to play and it's got a bike path, so I know we have no interest in moving out."
Lazansky says his family didn't learn about long-term plans for the memorial until after they bought the house. He worries his family will lose privacy as the houses disappear around them, but it's not going to drive him away.
Says Lazansky, "I like the idea of what they want to do but I don't want to see all the houses go and we're not moving."
Organizers say that's OK. They have enough land for the park. Now they just want a clear view for everyone to see it.
"It's not dependent upon those houses being cleared, that's not our property. If people choose, however to open it, that is something that would be desirable," says Harrington.
The Lazansky's say they might sell... for the right price. But Harrington says when the foundation buys out a house, they pay to have two appraisals done, then offer the average of those two and no higher.
The Rockford Park District Foundation donated the land, but all the park's features are privately funded. With new additions on the horizon, like a Korean Veteran's Memorial, its still in need of money. Contact the park district at 815-987-8800 to donate.