Kansas City, Mo. A monument to World War I veterans for more than 73 years is getting a much-deserved makeover.
Construction crews have begun a $70 million repair job on Liberty Memorial. Already, the site is a hub of activity.
Crews are removing heavy limestone blocks and tagging them for replacement, while a crane removes concrete below.
"The project is finally moving forward," said Mark McHenry, deputy director of the Kansas City Parks and Recreation Department. "Things are finally heading in the right direction."
The memorial took three years to build and was dedicated on Nov. 11, 1926. A groundbreaking is scheduled later this summer to formally mark current renovation efforts. That event will coincide with a national fund-raising campaign to raise $30 million for expansion of the site.
"We'll be re-forming our fund-raising committee over the next year," said Karen Daniel, a park board member and chairwoman of the monument's design and review committee. To date, only $7 million in private funds have been raised.
"We'll use every fund-raising means we can," Daniel said.
In addition, UtiliCorp United Inc. has donated $500,000 to pay for lighting at the memorial.
"The new lighting system envisions what H. Van Buren Magonigle, the original architect, had in mind in the beginning," said Richard Coleman, director of planning for the parks department.
Veterans Day 2001 was the target date for reopening the memorial, but the date has now been pushed back. Voters also approved a sales tax in 1998 to raise money for Liberty's renovation and restoration.
The project will be constructed by J.E. Dunn Construction Co. ASAI Architects is designing the project, which calls for a 600-day work schedule.
Work this summer will include bracing the 48-foot-tall, 488-foot-long north wall. That will be followed by dismantling of the observation deck and columns beneath.
"We'll remove that debris through an opening in the south wall," said Stephen Abend, principal architect with ASAI. "We'll use that opening to construct the new concrete structure underneath."
Stone resurfacing begins this fall, with the 217-foot-tall monument getting a high-pressure washing.