Council backs more grant money for Start Westward monument

By Janelle Patterson

The Marietta Times

Marietta City Council’s Lands, Buildings and Parks Committee supported further grant acquisition for the Start Westward Monument in East Muskingum Park Tuesday.

“We have good support from the state and federal officials,” said Jean Yost, representing the mayor’s appointed committee for the Start Westward Monument/East Muskingum Park Restoration Project. “The officials have said this is a national monument that represents our state to the visitors that come here.”

Input was taken from state and federal officials and comments gathered from two public meetings held last year. Yost said the next steps for restoration of the monument crafted by sculptor Gutzon Borglum for the Sesquicentennial Celebration of the Northwest Ordinance are obtaining funds not only from the 2019-2020 state capital budget appropriation but also from the Ohio Department of Transportation’s Transportation Alternatives Program and other granting sources.

“We’ve looked at what (state officials and local residents) have said and what people want is green, clean, minimalist and heated restrooms,” said Yost. “They want the wow factor but don’t want it flashy.”

Thus, recommendations like widening the bike path, installation of historic street lighting and signage and replacement of sidewalks and curb ramps accompany the plans to restore and preserve the sandstone monument dedicated in 1937.

“There are lots of facets to what we’re doing,” added Yost. “But we need to know where our blessing is before we go after the next (grant opportunities).”

Councilman Mike McCauley said the monument is of significant historical value to the city and gave his support alongside the rest of the councilors present.

Councilman Mike Scales added that the first priority is the preservation and restoration of the monument.

“Since a head has fallen off one and a nose off the other that makes sense for the first phase,” he said. “I think it’s very important and we need to take care of that monument as soon as possible.”

Early estimates place the project around $6 million with the first phase around $2.2 million.

Yost mentioned other granting opportunities that his committee is interested in pursuing both with the Ohio Arts Council and other entities to come up with the expected local match and engineering and administrative fees projected.

Council gave its blessing for the pursuit of those opportunities with the oversight of the city’s engineering and development offices.