The Soldotna Community Memorial Park project has taught Peter Micciche that it is OK for community members to disagree. The Soldotna mayor said the end result of the project is better after having input from both sides.
"What we did was essentially lock people who had opposing views of this park in to a room," Micciche said. "I think they walked in as folks that disagreed about an issue, and I think they walked out as friends.
"The end result is the design of this park that has made everyone on both sides happy."
The park will open on Oct. 9 with a dedication ceremony.
Micciche said it was important for the park to focus on remembrance of loved ones.
"You'll see in the theme of the designs - it's all lightly designed," he said. "Remembering those that have passed is a celebration of their life, and you're going to see that throughout the park."
The park is located on West Redoubt Avenue in the middle of a neighborhood, which was a topic of concern of the residents.
Liz Cristiano lives nearby, and said that compromise was very important for both sides.
"Not everyone can be happy, but you can all work together and come up with something nice," Cristiano said.
Trees act as a buffer between the park and the neighborhood, giving not only the houses privacy, but also those who will be visiting the park. The park has a total of 17 acres, but not all of that is being used at this time.
"We're using about three or four acres right now," Micciche said. "We have a plan for the next several hundred years - this is Soldotna's memorial park. It's expandable out into the trees as it grows into the future."
Micciche said one of the highlights of the park is the memorial wall, which will honor residents who were lost before the park was created.
"The wall is to account for all those years for the pioneers that created Soldotna were forced to be interred elsewhere," he said. "The memorial wall provides an opportunity to bring our history back home to Soldotna,"
The Memorial Wall structure is wavy, much like the curves of the Kenai River. Which is fitting, because the wall marks the path to the river overlook.
"This was very important to people that chose this location," Micciche said. "As well as those of us that designed the memorial park - there would be that quiet place where you can overlook the river and reflect on those lost."
The Kenai River flows through the community, not just physically, but figuratively.
"The river is part of all of us," Micciche said. "I think it's very important that we captured it here."
Overall, Micciche believes the park was the definition of a complete community effort.
"I am very excited the way the community has come together," he said. "And I have not a negative feeling toward the process.
"I learned very much of the value of when people disagree, the ultimate outcome is a better result and a better product."