Proposed Veterans Memorial Site Stirs Up Debate In Rochester

ROCHESTER (WCCO) — It is a museum that is meant to honor all Minnesota veterans. But building the museum has turned into a battle of its own at Soldiers Field Park in Rochester.

Korean War Veteran Bob Dewitz took on the mission years ago to build the Soldiers Field Veterans Memorial. It is a huge wall with the names of soldiers that did not survive and blocks with names of service men and woman who have served.

The vision now has moved on to build a museum to honor all Minnesota service members in the same park.

Tom Hosier is the President of the Minnesota Veterans Museum and is one of the leaders behind the project.

“People have told us it should be within walking distance of the memorial and that’s what we want to happen,” Hosier said.

The plan has been in the works for years. The board would like a three story, 60,000 square foot museum. It would take up about an acre-and-a-half of the park’s 40-acre space.

Nancy Slocumb is one of dozens of neighbors drawing the battle lines and opposes the project.

“I was alerted by our neighborhood association. I was just appalled,” Slocumb said.

Slocumb has nothing against honoring our troops. Instead, she is fighting to protect their park.

“We’d really like to keep that as a green space and if we can help them find another place,” Slocumb said.

The city has heard from others with traffic and noise concerns. The museum board knows it won’t be able to please everyone.

Dewitz is looking for a truce with the hope his memorial will finally get the museum he believes Minnesotans deserve.

“It makes me feel better when the people I don’t know comment on how beautiful it is,” Dewitz said.

There is a long-term study underway to figure out what will be best for the park. That could take until next year. The museum board said it would consider other options in Rochester, but again it thinks the best place would be at Soldiers Field.

The museum is looking for soldiers to share their stories to put in the museum.  If you have information you can e-mail Tom Hosier or Joe Adamson.

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