The city and community are working to bring the first veterans memorial park to the area.

On the cusp of realizing an idea that's been discussed for many years, the City of North Plains is now actively working to build its first veterans memorial park, according to City Manager Andy Varner.

About a year ago, city officials restarted the discussion and began looking for a good spot of land in the fast-developing city where the park could be built, Varner said.

"An obvious one was adjacent to an existing park, named after a veteran, William Vern Galaway," Varner said. "The park is called 'Vern Galaway Park,' but it doesn't have a lot of amenities."

The park, 31229 N.W. Highland Court, just off Highway 26 behind McDonald's, is named after Galaway, whose division received the Presidential Unit Citation for "outstanding performance in combat during the seizure and occupation of the Japanese-held Atoll of Tarawa, Gilbert Islands," from Nov. 20 to Nov. 24, 1943, Varner said.

Galaway was a resident of North Plains, where members of his family still reside.

"It's in a good location for a proposed park like this, because it would definitely get some traffic. A lot of people stop off on their way to the coast at McDonald's or Chevron … and it's near an existing park that already has parking," Varner said. "So we approached the landowners near that park, and the landowners are actually the Galaway family. (We asked) about getting another sliver, a quarter- or half-acre of land, to put a veterans memorial park there, and some parking and amenities."

That land transaction is currently in the works, Varner said, now putting the city's major focus on raising money to bring the plan to fruition.

"We are committed to purchasing the land and we are still searching for funding, applying for (grants)," he said. "We are definitely in fundraising mode."

Plans include a memorial wall displaying plaques of each of the five service branches and honoring local war heroes, a large flag — which will be illuminated to be visible from Highway 26 — picnic tables and park benches, drinking fountains, and more.

Varner said the location will be significant for other reasons as well.

"What's going to be cool about this park and the placement of it is we are in the process of designing, and hope to start construction this year, on a trail system that goes along our Ghost Creek in town," he said. "And kind of in the middle of it will be this park. … So whatever end you start, when you start on the path or the trail, you will run into this veterans park, so it's kind of a centerpiece."

It isn't city officials who should be credited with the idea for the memorial park, Varner acknowledged, but rather the residents and veterans who brought it forward as something they feel would be important to have in the North Plains community.

"A lot of other communities have a veteran memorial park, so they wanted to see something like that in our community as well. Everyone thought that was a great idea to honor those that sacrificed so much for our country," Varner said. "It was an easy project for everyone to get behind. It's not always easy to raise money for and construct, but that's what we are doing. We are 100 percent committed to doing that, and I think it will be a great asset for our community and all the veterans around, even those that are just passing through."

He concluded, "I think it will be a great thing for North Plains."

By Olivia Singer
Reporter, Forest Grove News-Times and Hillsboro Tribune
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Follow Olivia at @oliviasingerr
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