BATAVIA — Ever since local Peace Garden organizers began their efforts, they were determined to keep the project privately funded, Marilyn Werner says.
She and Project Manager Barb Toal were gleeful Thursday that their dream is being fulfilled.
“We have enough money to order 20 flags,” Toal said. “The community has come together so excitedly we don’t have any option but to move forward and install these flags. We had planned to go in stages. Since we’ve begun fundraising, the community dove in with such support.”
During its Wednesday meeting, the city’s Historic Preservation Commission approved a 6-foot tall steel globe that will be part of the garden alongside Holland Land Office Museum on West Main Street. Remaining plans include illuminated flags placed strategically throughout sections of brick paths, flowers, trees and benches.
Close to 100 bricks — some designating farmers and their families — and five benches have been ordered as more individuals and companies are stepping forward to help out, Werner said. The state and Genesee County Farm Bureau has agreed to help promote the project and help draft copy for six interpretive panels that tell the story of Genesee County’s rich agricultural history.
“We’re not just talking about the War of 1812 but also about the development of the land in Genesee County,” Werner said. “If you’re driving down West Main Street now, there’s nothing; it’s a piece of land. There will be 20 illuminated flags of 20 different countries all celebrating peace.”
Rob Barone of Barone Welding in Batavia will build the globe and the Friends of the Batavia Peace Garden have all contributed time and effort to design the whole concept and work on various aspects of its creation, Toal said.
She and Werner are hoping that families will commit to a small plot within the garden so they can work the soil and really become part of the volunteer-based project. So that they can say “I have a piece of peace,” Werner said.
O-At-Ka and Upstate Milk Cooperatives will sponsor the globe, concrete base and four military plaques representing the Army, Air Force, Navy and Marines.
“They’ve thrown an amazing amount of support into this ... teams of volunteers and financial sponsorship,” Werner said. “It’s a huge satisfaction, it’s going to be an amazing tourism attraction. We’re on the map.”
She meant that quite literally, since the city’s impending garden is part of a glossy colored tourism map depicting 22 Peace Gardens from Buffalo to Oswego. Stop No. 13 is Batavia, which served as the rallying point during the War of 1812. While much else in Niagara County and Buffalo lay in ashes from a British attack Batavia residents offered shelter for those fleeing the devastation.
This honorary Peace Garden will signify 200 years of peace between Canada and the United States. There is no current War of 1812 display inside the adjacent museum, but “we’re working on it,” Museum Director Jeff Donahue said. He wasn’t certain when it would be up for view. Friends of the Batavia Peace Garden think it would be a “win-win” to have not only such a display but a small office space within the museum staffed by a volunteer.
“We certainly hope for it to have a presence in the museum,” she said.”I believe in this project because I know ... that it will bring people into the museum. It’s going to be incredible for Genesee County.”
In the meantime, organizers have set a fundraiser dinner for 5 p.m. April 28 at Terry Hills restaurant on Clinton Street Road. Tickets are $25 and will include dinner, dessert and guest speaker Congresswoman Kathy Hochul speaking about the “Value of Volunteerism.”
That theme is to continue with a peace weekend April 28 and 29 at county churches and a display of Genesee and Orleans County students’ works of peace April 30 through May 7.
A dedication of the flags is set for 2 p.m. May 6. Ghostriders, Mighty St. Joe’s, Batavia High School’s jazz and marching bands and Blue Belles, a 21 gun salute and remarks from county officials will be part of the festivities.
“It’s going to be a great big party, a party in the garden,” Werner said.
For more information, call Toal at (585) 344-2458; International Peace Garden President Paula Savage at (585) 343-2387 or go to www.1812.ipgf.org.