Retired Navy veteran wants Lone Sailor statue on New Milford Green
NEW MILFORD -- For almost two years, a retired U.S. Navy veteran has been trying to build support to erect a Lone Sailor monument on the green.
Gilbert Nelson has found some people in favor of the statue -- a replica of one in Washington, D.C., that honors sailors, Marines, the Coast Guard and Merchant Marines -- but not on the green, specifically on the southern end near the bandstand.
The Parks & Recreation Commission is the agency that decides what is located in town parks. On Tuesday night, the commission is scheduled to discuss and possibly vote on the issue, which was also debated at its November meeting.
At that meeting, several commission members said they thought other locations in town would be more suitable than the green, which is the site of various events and concerts and does not have room for more permanent statutes.
Eighty-year-old Nelson said the statute is just 6 feet tall and the green should be able to accommodate it.
Other supporters of the Lone Sailor statue suggested the commission might have a public hearing to get residents' opinions.
Local Veterans Council leaders say they appreciate Nelson's passion for the project, but they also believe there are more suitable sites. If this statue is approved, some of them envision similar requests from other branches of the military.
Currently, the veterans monuments on the green honor those who served in the various wars, rather than in a particular branch of service.
"It's not that we don't want to honor those veterans, we just think it might be put in a more appropriate place,'' Sullivan said.
Mayor Patricia Murphy said it might actually be time for the town to consider creating a Veterans Park off the green as a place for ceremonial tributes and monuments. She said Center Cemetery is a possibility.
Other sites suggested include Addis Park, the future River Walk along the Housatonic, and Patriot's Way, where the 9/11 memorial stands.
"Sometimes it just takes a little thought,'' Murphy said.
Nelson is not convinced. He wants the Lone Sailor where all the veterans ceremonies take place: on the south end of the green.
Private funds must be used for the sculpture costs and they depend on location, Nelson said.
Whether he and his supporters will prevail, or a suitable compromise found, remains to be seen. But they will do their best to convince the commission the green is the right place for this military tribute.
"Either I'm crazy or I have something I believe with all my heart would be wonderful for the town,'' Nelson said.