09/04/2008 – Daily News Record
Work Crews Remove Plaque For Use At New JMU Facility Written By Pete DeLea A monument honoring World War II veterans has been torn down at the old Veterans Memorial Stadium. The plaque with their names has been stored and will be placed into the design of the new James Madison University baseball and softball complex, which is scheduled to be completed in 2010. HARRISONBURG – Motorists along South High Street in Harrisonburg might have noticed a change in the landscape at Memorial Stadium over the last couple weeks – a toppled over World War II monument. In fact, city officials received calls reporting a possible vandalism. Vandals, however, weren’t the culprits: Construction workers for James Madison University removed a bronze plaque from the structure so it could be placed in a new memorial when the new Memorial Stadium is built next year. "We are going to create a new memorial and take the existing plaque and integrate it into the new memorial," said Don Egle, university spokesman. "They had to bust the brick to get the plaque out." Veterans Tribute Remains JMU plans on preserving the "Memorial Stadium" name, given in 1949 when the site was dedicated in honor of 139 World War II veterans. Egle said the plaque and a piece of cement that included a date on it are being kept in a secure location for safe keeping until the stadium is built. He said the plans to replace the memorial were discussed with area veterans groups before the plaque was removed. Final plans are being worked on and renderings will be released in the next few weeks. Plans to demolish the existing 2,300-seat baseball stadium and construct a new one were announced during a Veterans Day ceremony at the stadium last year. Plans call for a $9.5 million baseball and softball complex to be built. Egle said demolition is slated to begin in mid-December, with construction scheduled to begin during the first part of October. He said plans call for the stadium to be built and ready for use in 2010. Memorial Stadium is home to the Valley Baseball League’s Harrisonburg Turks. The Turks plan on playing their 2009 season at JMU’s Long Field. JMU bought the 29-acre tract that included the former Harrisonburg High School – including Memorial Stadium – from the city for about $17 million in July 2006. Mayor: Monument A Priority Mayor Rodney Eagle, a veteran himself, said the city and JMU discussed the memorial preservation while they were negotiating the sale of the property At the time of the sale, he said several veterans groups expressed concerns about the memorial. He said JMU officials made it clear that preserving the memorial would be a priority. "They were given assurance at the time that it would be preserved," Eagle said. "[JMU] knows the importance of it." JMU followed through on their word, said Eagle, who added he received a phone call from a concerned resident Wednesday wondering if the monument was vandalized. He said he remembers the stadium being built when he was child, and is looking forward to seeing the new stadium, which would still honor veterans. "It’s great that they are honoring the veterans," Eagle said. "It’s good that they are carrying on the tradition."