FARGO — Despite objections from a group of Fargo-area veterans, a project at Fargo National Cemetery will continue this summer.
Jason Hicks, who is a leader of the Fargo Memorial Honor Guard, said a group of area veterans met late last month and decided to file a formal complaint. concerning “an outbuilding” planned for the cemetery.
He said the request “fell on deaf ears” with officials from the National Cemetery Administration, which is leading efforts to create more rural cemeteries for veterans.
The $250,000 summer project includes the construction of vault-style restrooms at the cemetery as well as a wind wall and storage building.
Les Melnyk, chief public affairs spokesperson for the Department of Veterans Affairs’ cemetery division, said in a statement Friday, July 8 that “we are not building outhouses.”
“Calling these restrooms an outhouse is misleading and inaccurate,” he wrote.
“Vault-style toilets will be a permanent enclosed structure that complements the design of the cemetery unlike portable toilets or other temporary structures which are not only unsanitary but also detract from the overall appearance of the site,” he said. added.
Hicks, however, said it was a “colossal waste of taxpayers’ money and also unsuitable for a national cemetery.”
Hicks’ group is in the midst of a major fundraising campaign to build a gathering center adjacent to the cemetery with a chapel, indoor restrooms, storage, meeting and gathering room and a proposed ceremonial area for veterans. Native Americans next to the structure.
So the veterans believe in what they hope will be a construction project starting next year that will solve the need for toilets and shelter issues.
Their project received a big boost last month when the nonprofit honor guard group received donations of more than $380,000, including an anonymous donation of $250,000 and $100,000 from the North Dakota Masons organization, bringing total donations to $730,000.
The objective is to reach between 2 and 2.5 million dollars.
Melnyk said they are well aware of the veterans group’s proposed construction project and says he realizes the cemetery “has become part of the Fargo community over the nearly three years. since its opening.
Defending this summer’s work, Melnyk said the vault toilet would contain a flushless, flush toilet that stores waste in a large airtight underground vault.
“This vault will be emptied and cleaned on a regular schedule. Vault-style toilets are versatile because they can be installed in environmentally sensitive areas where plumbing is not easily accessible,” he wrote. .
Hicks, however, said the toilets would have no electricity or heat source.
“Imagine what December through April will be like,” he said, adding that hot, humid summers aren’t any better.
Hicks said he didn’t know who was behind the work plan this summer and that NCA officials told them it was too late to stop him. “When our building is complete, the stupidity/darkness of this plan will really shine through.”