Traverse City, Michigan park to install a monument honoring the Coast Guard
By JORDAN TRAVIS | The Record-Eagle, Traverse City, Mich. | Published: March 2, 2018
TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (Tribune News Service) — Downtown Traverse City's gateway park will host a memorial to the U.S. Coast Guard, one that hearkens to a familiar sight in the sky.
Stan Simons, who chairs the city's Coast Guard City Committee, said he's looking forward to seeing years of effort come to fruition when a contractor installs the monument in Mini Park. That park sits at the corner of East Front Street and Grandview Parkway, and the helicopter-shaped sculpture will recognize the military branch's personnel.
Simons made the monument his personal charge after meeting Coast Guard men and women during his own time in the Army.
"I like what they do for our country and for our state, and so I think it's just appropriate that we acknowledge and recognize those people and what they do for us," he said.
City leaders recently approved a contract to build the monument, city Manager Marty Colburn said. Work should be done by the first week of May.
City commissioners approved spending up to $60,000 on the project, deputy city Clerk Katie Zeits said. That includes $16,150 to PIW Corporation for the sculpture.
The finished monument will include the sculpture in the center of a circular brick paver pad, Simons said. Two stone walls will stand at the pad's north and south edges, one with stainless steel letters spelling "COAST GUARD CITY."
Traverse City is among 21 municipalities nationwide Congress has designated as Coast Guard Cities, according to the USCG — Grand Haven was the nation's first. The designation aims to recognize places that make special efforts to honor the men and women who serve as "Coasties," as they're affectionately known.
The Grand Traverse Bay area has a longstanding tradition of hosting not only the Coast Guard but its predecessor, the U.S. Life-Saving Service, Colburn said. The Coast Guard's Air Station Traverse City is based at Cherry Capital Airport.
A host of local groups helped make the project happen, Simons said. Rotary Charities, the Biederman Foundation and others donated funds — no city money is going toward the project.
Mallory Heiges, a Traverse City West Senior High School student in 2013, partnered with metal artist Matt Coffey on the design. Coast Guard Committee members picked it after asking students to submit their designs for a contest. The project was held up when city leaders sought more feedback and a review by the city's Parks and Recreation Commission.
People can still contribute by sending a check to Traverse City, with "Coast Guard City Committee" in the memo line, Simons said.
Simons said contractors will wait for the ground to thaw before starting the installation.
He's planning to invite city officials along with Coast Guard air station and district commanders to see the finished project.
"It's been a labor of love," Simons said. "The committee has worked very hard to get this done, and I'm very excited that it looks like it's going to happen."