Park undergoing renovations pays tribute to veterans, first responders

Reporter: Erika Jackson

An old park in Charlotte County is getting a new look and a new name to honor our area’s heroes.

Formerly known as Sunrise Park, it is now named after a local marine, William R. Gaines Jr., killed in the line of duty. The park will pay tribute to veterans and first responders.

Navy veteran Bobby Biggs visits 40 acre, William R. Gaines Jr. Veterans Memorial Park, almost daily to take in the greenery as he hopes to see surprise guests.

“There are a ton of little critters over here that you can run into,” Biggs said.

Soon, there will be more for him to enjoy at the park. Charlotte County is looking to add a playground, picnic pavilion, new entrance and exercise stations. The park will be eco-friendly, with several solar trees and solar parking canopies providing power.

It is a unique tribute to fallen Charlotte County hero, Bill Gaines, who was killed in Beirut by the largest non-nuclear bomb ever detonated.

Also in the plans is a 60-foot flagpole to fly the nation’s colors and a 54-foot wheelchair accessible lookout tower, which will face Beirut and represent the troop’s headquarters.

The $7 million project has already secured more than $1 million in funding from Charlotte County. But it is expected to get most of its financial support through private donations.

Charlotte County told WINK News it plans to have the 60 flag pole installed before Memorial Day.

Biggs hopes his neighbors will take advantage of their hometown park while respecting those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

“Take care of their park,” Biggs said. “It is their park, too.”

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