Granite benches coming

Five granite benches that have been in storage for the last four years at Miller Memorials on Colegate Drive may soon reach their final destination at the Veterans Walk of Honor in Marietta.

“We had hoped to have them in by Memorial Day, but now we’re shooting for July 4,” said Roy Ash, veterans service officer for Washington County.

He said the benches, made of American granite, were purchased four years ago through the Veterans Service Commission at a cost of $9,000 to be placed at the Veterans Walk of Honor adjacent to Armory Square on Front Street.

“What really started it was a lot of phone calls we were getting from people who didn’t like the way the veterans walk area was developed,” Ash explained.

He noted people were concerned that the large sandstone rock centerpiece installed at the west end of the walkway did not match the original plans for that area, and that lightweight metal benches placed there had to be chained to the ground.

“So our commission voted to contract with Miller Memorials and a company in Vermont for five American granite benches that would each represent a different branch of military service as well as the five veterans organizations in Washington County,” Ash said. “That was four years ago.”

At that time landscaping was being done around the armory building for the Armory Square project, so installation of the granite benches was put off to avoid possible damage during that phase of the Armory Square renovation.

Last fall Ash met with the Armory Square Inc., the nonprofit group helping support the renovation of the century-old National Guard Armory building.

“We had asked to have the benches in by Memorial Day, but the city has to move an electrical conduit and some shrubs before the footers can be poured and the benches installed,” he said.

Marietta Councilman Harley Noland, D-at large, who chairs council’s lands, buildings and parks committee, said the benches have been approved by city council, and they could be installed by July 4 of this year.

“We had the city facilities department there earlier this year, but they wanted to wait until the aquatic center was ready to open for the season, which made sense,” he said. “The pool opens this weekend, so now we’re planning to have the benches installed and dedicated by the July 4 weekend when we’re also planning a picnic to honor the CAPS (Citizens Armory Preservation Society) who had a lot to do with getting the Armory Square project started.”

He said the metal benches that are currently installed at the Veterans Walk of Honor will be moved from that location, but will remain in the Armory Square area.

“They could possibly be placed along the sidewalk where pedestrians could stop and rest in front of the armory,” Noland added.

Ash said there has also been some discussion about possibly replacing the sandstone rock at the veterans walk with a granite rock that could better weather the elements and would last much longer.

Russell Atkinson with Miller Memorials said obtaining a large piece of granite would be no problem, but it could be costly to transport and install the piece.