Veterans and their families visiting Isaac Prouty Park this past Memorial Day were thrilled to see the upgrades made possible by local officials and residents. Thanks to the efforts of Sen. Anne Gobi, State Rep. Donald Berthiaume and State Rep. Peter Durant, the Spencer Exchange Club was awarded $150,000 from the Mass. Department of Veterans Services. All of the funds went toward improving Isaac Prouty Park at the town center, where veterans have been visiting war monuments for decades.
The main focus of the project was to preserve 13 maple trees that were planted at the park several decades ago, each one honoring a Spencer resident who gave his life in World War I. Many of the markers commemorating those soldiers went missing over the years, and the grant funds will allow brand new markers to be placed. Additionally, several trees that were compromising the integrity of the World War I memorial trees have been removed, as well as trees along the sidewalk that obstructed residents’ view of the park. Many residents didn’t even know the park existed, Spencer Exchange Club members said, but this project should go a long way toward increasing exposure. “This has been a great project. It’s so important to remember those who gave their lives to protect our freedoms,” said Exchange Club member Pat George. “This is a nice place for all veterans and their families to visit.” These latest park renovations represented the culmination of several years of hard work.
Exchange Club member and veteran Gary Herl first brought up the idea six years ago, but the project never would have been possible without the assistance from local legislators. “When we received the state money, we were really able to get the park looking good,” George said. The project also included the restoration of the Civil War monument at the center of the park, in addition to new signage posted at the front along Route 9. All work is expected to be completed by June 30. For elected officials, it has been a thrill to see the project come to fruition. “Prouty Park has served as a memorial to our fallen veterans. Unfortunately, too few people are aware of its existence,” Gobi said. “I was glad to work on the initial funding and then to advocate to have the funds restored. I appreciate the efforts of the Spencer Exchange Club on starting the discussions to revitalize the park. The collaboration with local veterans and the town will ensure that any modifications to Prouty Park will result in a fitting and lasting tribute to those who made the ultimate sacrifice.”
Members of several town committees and boards were thanked for their contributions to the project, including Exchange Club member, Arnie Arsenault, and American Legion members Scott Conner and Gary Herl (both of whom also serve on the Exchange Club). Additionally, Town Administrator Adam Gaudette, Selectman Tony Pepe, Parks and Recreation Commission Chairman Robert Churchey, and Utilities and Facilities Director Steven Tyler also played vital roles.
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