Pat Smiley, former Pacific Soccer Association president, is one step closer to installing granite markers that depict American veterans from military conflicts along the walking trail in Liberty Field.
The city of Pacific has attained the no-rise certificate, guaranteeing that Smiley’s plaques would not cause floodwater to rise in other areas, which was required to place any new installation in the floodplain.
For the better part of three years, Smiley has been putting together his vision of a combination local history, tourism exhibit that would honor the individuals who served in military conflicts for the United States.
Some 28 black granite markers, each 36 by 24 inches, will be placed on metal stands at intervals along the one-mile walking trail that circles the Liberty Field soccer fields and equestrian arena.
The first marker will offer a synopsis of the project. Each additional marker will contain an etched picture depicting one conflict and a 180-word paragraph describing the war or battle.
Retired teachers Linda and Roger Brown worked with Smiley to assemble the pictures and create the text for each marker.
Smiley raised the $14,000 needed to purchase the markers and stands through a variety of requests and benefits, including some individuals and groups paying $500 to purchase one marker. Cost of the metal stands is approximately $200 each.
Smiley, along with close friends Matt and Tara Baltimore, came up with the idea in 2009.
“We were just brainstorming about the future of Liberty Field when I said it would be nice to have a veterans walk,” Smiley said. “Tara jumped up, went to the computer and began to write a plan for the project. That was the beginning.”
The trio envisioned that the markers would create an outdoor classroom bringing students from throughout the region and tourists interested in military history to the park.
“I definitely think schools would bring kids to make this walk,” Smiley said.
Height of the plaques would be approximately waist-high, similar to the Civil War markers in Blackburn Park and Pacific Station Plaza.
“But they would definitely be the right height for people in wheelchairs,” Smiley said. “We’ll go down there with a wheelchair when we get the first stand and measure to make sure anyone sitting in the chair could read the marker.”
Smiley has the first marker in hand, the one that contains the project synopsis. He and the Browns are almost ready to order the first six battle plaques that would cover information on the Revolutionary War and Civil War.
He also has ordered a prototype metal stand that he will take to a local metal worker to build the remaining 27 stands.
“We won’t install any markers until we have all 28 markers and 28 stands,” Smiley said. “Our goal right now is to have them all installed by Memorial Day weekend, May 24-26.”
The city has agreed to dig the holes and install concrete for the stands. Smiley thinks all 28 markers could be installed in one weekend.
“They (city workers) would have to dig 56 holes and we’d bolt the markers onto the stands,” he said. “I think we can do it all in one weekend.”