Pickett Park must be built

This summer will mark 13 years since Staff Sergeant Tyler Pickett lost his life to a suicide bomber in Iraq. Since then, the promise of a memorial park for the Saratoga High School graduate has gone unfulfilled. 

Hopefully, that will be changing soon.

A member of the Class of 2000, Tyler Pickett was 28 years old when he was in Iraq on June 8, 2008. By all rights, he should have been home as he was originally supposed to be on leave at that time. However, his leave had been deferred. Pickett would end up being the first and only Carbon County death in Iraq. A memorial service was held for Pickett in Saratoga on June 23, 2008 and he was buried in Antwerp, New York.

The Saratoga Town Council at the time declared July 4, 2008 Sergeant Tyler Pickett Day and one community member, Richard Hodges, suggested that either a street or a park be named after the fallen soldier. In 2009, the Town of Saratoga purchased property next to Veterans Island and this would, eventually, become the “future home” of Sergeant Tyler Pickett Memorial Park.

The term, future home, has almost felt like a taunt rather than a prediction. While the Town of Saratoga appeared to take the lead on the project at first, it eventually fell by the wayside. The flooding in 2010 and 2011, according to former mayor John Zeiger, had depleted the Town’s surplus. So, instead, Angus England American Legion Post 54 took over the fundraising of the project. 

For more than a decade, the American Legion has donated money to the Town of Saratoga to place in a reserve account for the park. Others, over the years, have donated or discussed commitments to the project. A Denver-based design company, Norris Designs, created detailed designs for the park free of charge. Those plans are still on the company’s website.

Yet, despite all that, the “future home” of Sergeant Tyler Pickett Memorial Park has been little more than an extended parking lot for Veterans Island. That undeveloped plot of land has been a blackmark on the eye of Saratoga for years. 

It is for these reasons the Saratoga Sun is appreciative of American Legion Vice Commander Joe Parsons and Councilmember Ben Spaulding. At the May 4 meeting of the Saratoga Town Council, Parsons requested that Mayor Creed James authorize the formation of a working group to see this project to completion.

Parsons and Spaulding are no strangers to completing projects. Parsons, following the closure of one of the few childcare businesses in the Valley, spearheaded the formation of Valley Village Childcare. Spaulding, additionally, oversaw the founding of Platte Valley Little League. Both entities are already proving successful with children and parents.

This is not to discredit the support given to the project by others, and they are many. The late Councilmember Steve Wilcoxson, for example, was an outspoken supporter of the project. 

We at the Sun hope, with the aid of Parsons and Spaulding, this memorial park will at least be started and at most be finished before the next election cycle. It would be great if, after numerous elections, the question of “Will Sergeant Tyler Pickett Memorial Park be built” will not need to be asked because it will have already been answered.

Saratoga owes it to Wilcoxson.

Saratoga owes it to Pickett’s family.

Most importantly, Saratoga owes it to Pickett himself.


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