Memorial Park is getting a new and improved memorial dedicated to those who served in the Korean and Vietnam Wars.
The City of Omaha received a $200,000 private donation to create an identical replica of the memorial, the Mayor’s Office announced Thursday.
The old Korea Vietnam Peace Memorial, which was installed in 1976 and restored 20 years ago, has already been removed.
“It was beyond repair,” said Parks Director Brook Bench.
The city announced the donation Wednesday evening during the Veterans Shine On lighting ceremony at Memorial Park.
Mayor Jean Stothert said Omaha’s philanthropic community supports the city’s parks generously.
“This monument is a symbol of military service and sacrifice, so we are especially grateful to the donor for acknowledging the Americans who served,” Stothert said.
Jensen Conservation Service is building the replica, which again will feature a soldier and child. It’s expected to be done next year.
The city also plans to build and pay for new sidewalks leading from Memorial Park’s circle drive to the new monument.
Right now, people have to walk through grass to access it. Sidewalks will make the monument accessible for people in wheelchairs or those pushing baby strollers, Bench said.
The City Council earlier this year put $100,000 into Stothert’s 2018 budget to help restore the Korean and Vietnam Wars tribute, along with the World War II colonnade in Memorial Park.
Both are in need of repair, and advocates want the work done in time for the 70th anniversary of the park’s dedication next year. Together, the projects are expected to cost about $350,000.
Stothert opposed the proposal by Councilman Pete Festersen to put city funds toward the projects but didn’t veto it.
It’s likely that some of that money will be used for improvements at the park, Bench said. He said he hopes the colonnade project will be completed next year, too.
Festersen said he’s optimistic that both projects will be done in time for the anniversary.
“I think the end result will be something worthy of the veterans we honor this weekend,” he said.