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The Journal Gazette

  • File A bugler and a flag bearer take part in an annual Veterans Day remembrance ceremony at Memorial Park last November.

Monday, April 17, 2017 1:00 am

A balance of tradition, progress

Indiana Tech project careful to keep Memorial Park's character

Arthur Snyder

Arthur Snyder has served as president of Indiana Tech since 2003.

As a Vietnam veteran, I often get questions from friends, colleagues, students and community members about my service. Many people are also kind enough to share words of appreciation for this service, which I accept with humility not for myself, but on behalf of all the men and women who have served our country.

These conversations keep me especially mindful of history, and how best to acknowledge and honor it while continuing to build a strong future for our youth, our families and our community. This balance lies at the heart of the exciting new partnership Indiana Tech has been developing with the city of Fort Wayne, the parks and recreation department and our neighbors.

Within Memorial Park, located east of downtown near our thriving main campus, we propose to invest in a fully renovated and upgraded softball stadium on the site of the current softball field, a new track for our national champion men's and women's track and field teams, and an athletic facility where we will house several coaches as well as a full-time facility manager.

For parks and recreation, the neighborhood and community at large, these new facilities offer a wide range of opportunities. Existing parks and recreation programs and their participants will enjoy updated, as well as new, facilities. New summer camp programs can be developed to take advantage of unique new features such as a collegiate-level track. Indiana Tech coaches and student-athletes, as well as parks and recreation staff, can conduct youth sports clinics and other camps throughout the summer. Existing facilities, such as the pool, splash pad, pavilion, playground and basketball courts, will remain for all to enjoy.

As part of the new project, two memorials will be relocated within the park – the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and the Arthur Smith Memorial, each of which is currently located within the proposed area for the new track facility. Working with parks and recreation, each will be relocated to a more publicly accessible and visible location where all park visitors will enjoy access to them. Other memorials within the park will remain at their current location.

As a veteran myself, it is vital to me that our memorials to the men and women who have served – and in many cases died for – our country are treated with dignity and respect. It is equally essential that as many people as possible are able to see and experience these memorials. By ensuring this, we can hope that they will gain an understanding of what our servicemen and -women truly sacrificed so that the rest of us might have the opportunity to build a brighter future.

That brighter future is what our partnership with parks and recreation in Memorial Park is all about. Indiana Tech will make a substantial investment not just in dollars for facilities, but in time by our students and staff to further grow our connection to and support for the community.

Through this partnership, more people will experience the memorials to history found in the park while making the most of new features that take us into the future.

Personally, I look forward to bringing my grandchildren to Memorial Park to see the fruits of this new project, and sharing with them the story of the men and women commemorated there.

Everyone at Indiana Tech is proud of the role the university has played in partnering with our neighbors and the city in improving our area of the community. Together, we all work to make it an inviting part of Fort Wayne in which to live, work and learn. This new partnership continues that commitment. Building up our youth, our students and our community – there may be no more compelling monument to the service of our fellow citizens than that.