June 9, 2022 |

The Never Forget Memorial Park in Saratoga may not be completed by Labor Day, but the sculpture commemorating the life and sacrifice of the local soldier who inspired the creation of the green space will be.

The Platte Valley Arts Council commissioned local artist Sierra Smith to create an original piece of art memorializing Staff Sgt. Tyler Pickett of Saratoga, who was killed in Iraq. The large spherical sculpture made of repurposed metal artifacts, including barbed wire, will be the centerpiece of the park.

Platte Valley Arts Council Director Stacy Crimmins told the Saratoga Town Council this week that the plan is to install the piece in time for a planned unveiling in September whether the park is completed or not.

Pictured above: The Platte Valley Arts Council released this photo as a little hint of the art piece that Sierra Smith is creating as part of the public art display at Never Forget Park that will be unveiled in Fall of 2022. Photo courtesy Platte Valley Arts Council.

Crimmins presented council with a Memorandum of Understanding stating that the PVAC will retain ownership of the sculpture and would be responsible for its maintenance and upkeep, as well as insurance obligations at no cost to the town. She added that the piece is piece going up, even if it stands in a lot surrounded by dirt and nothing else.

The committee formed to move forward with the project decided on a somewhat elaborate design for the park that includes curb and gutter. The town has still not gone out to bid for the work.

Officials are also negotiating with the owner of the Saratoga Hot Springs Resort for a narrow piece of land adjacent to the park along Pic Pike Road. The owner of the resort has resisted overtures to donate the unused strip for the park, which would be used for parking. Michael Jansen wants to swap the property for a town owned lot that would allow direct access to another part of his resort property that sprawls across either side of the North Platte River. By law, an appraisal must be done and the town is paying for it. The appraisal is not complete, and there’s no guarantee that both parties will agree to the final determination.

In the meantime, the park space remains an undeveloped lot across from Veteran’s Island. Crimmins said she has been working with the artist and the town’s public works director, Jon Winter, to figure out where on the lot to place the sculpture even if the rest of the property remains undeveloped.

Mayor Creed James said the appraisal of the two pieces of property might be completed in time to schedule a public hearing, also required for any potential land swap, in July. Approving a contractor for the curb and gutter and scheduling the work would follow, giving maybe six weeks to finish before the September 3rd unveiling.



Related: Saratoga Town Council keeping Tyler Pickett Park in sight

Related: Saratoga Town Council approves ‘Never Forget Park’ name change at request of Tyler Pickett’s family

Related: Local youth group raises $500 for Tyler Pickett Park bringing donations tally up to $9K

Related: Tyler Pickett Park committee grows, design up for discussion

Related: Saratoga creates steering committee for Tyler Pickett Park

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