The Washington Parks Committee unanimously agreed that erecting a memorial to Robert Perkins, the first park director, is a “great idea.”

Tom Dill, representing a group of Perkins’ friends and acquaintances, spoke to the commission Thursday night. Dill proposed a memorial with a flagpole and a plaque acknowledging Perkins’ status and the first park director and his contributions to the city be placed at Phoenix Park.

This August would mark the 40th anniversary of Perkins moving to Washington and beginning work as the parks director. He served the department for about six years.

“At that time, we had a treasure trove of parks, but they were not being maintained the way they should be,” Dill said. “He developed a plan for maintaining those.”

Dill said Perkins began the recreation program in Washington that has expanded greatly since his departure, and envisioned a major park on the East end of Washington.

He also was responsible for developing a strategic plan for the parks and built the current parks office.

Dill said that having a flagpole is important, as Perkins was a Vietnam veteran who prematurely passed away because of cancer caused by his exposure to Agent Orange.

If approved, the memorial will be placed just north of the pavilion.

Darren Dunkle, parks director, said the area would be easy to light.

Dave Wehmeyer, committee member, said the location was good, because the grassy area there now is difficult to mow.

Collecting Funds

The group already has collected $1,000 pledged toward the project and will seek contributions to help fund the memorial.

Those who wish to donate may call Dill, 314-603-2385, or the parks department, 636-390-1080.

Dunkle said the memorial will cost a couple thousand dollars, but a true estimate is not yet complete.

The request will move to the full park board for a recommendation. If approved, the proposal will go to city council for final approval.