In the early days of the Depew Fire Department when the annual inspection of the fire department was held or any type of carnival or fund raising activity was held, most of the time these activities were held in the local streets adjoining the fire house or in some private picnic grove of which there were several in the village.
If a carnival was a part of the activity, this was also setup in the street. In the late 1930’s and early 1940’s carnivals and picnics were held at Broadway Park, which was at the corner of Broadway and South Warsaw Street and at times in “Cayuga Town” at a field called appropriately Cayuga Park, which was located between what is now Ellington and Canton Streets between Terrace Boulevard and Broadway.
Warden Ted Oleksy of the Depew Hook & Ladder Co. reported to the company at the December 10,1948 meeting that the Depew Fire Department was discussing the purchase of land because it was felt that in time there will not be any sites available for picnics and field days and a site near main roads was being considered.
At the January 14, 1949 meeting of the Hooks under Good and Welfare……. A general discussion ensued relative to the question of individual companies and the department acquiring land in the village. It was suggested that the Village of Depew secure land in exchange with the county, and that the Village develop the site into a park site for the fire department and the companies to use on an equal basis. An individual company, the Cayuga’s, should not be allowed to make a purchase on their own. Warden Ted Oleksy reported, that the department was negotiating a “Deal” similar to that sought by the Cayuga’s, that is a purchase of land at a 40% rebate.
On February 11, 1949 Warden Ted Oleksy reported that the Board of Wardens had agreed on a Terrace Boulevard site for the park. The matter was to be discussed by the Fire Chief and the Wardens with the Village Board. It was to be understood that the Village of Depew would own and maintain the park.
The Depew Village Board was approached with the idea of the village purchasing lots, which were available at Terrace and Erie Streets for the use of the Depew Fire Department. The fire department in turn would provide and build a structure to be used as a bar facility when the department would hold it’s carnivals which were the main source of income for the department. The individual companies would also have use of the facilities.
The village board did indeed acquire the lots, which totaled approximately 12 acres, exchanging property with Erie County, which held title to the lots in question. In September 1968, the Village of Depew would acquire an additional 13 acres to bring the park up to its present size of about 25 acres.
On June 10, 1950 Firemen’s Park was opened with a comfort station and bar facilities, which the firemen helped to erect.
On July 11, 1961 a resolution was proposed by the Twin Village Post V.F.W. 463 which resolved that, “because of the untiring devotion to duty to the citizens of our community, the past and present members of the Depew Volunteer Department should be honored by having the Depew Park (located on Terrace Boulevard at A Street) be officially dedicated and named The Depew Volunteer Firemen’s Park, Said park should be dedicated no later than July 4, 1962.”
In the cover letter to the Depew Village Board dated July 28, 1961, the V.F.W. asked that a favorable decision to be rendered by the Village Board and stated that the members of the Twin Village Post #463 will gladly contribute $25.00 to the Depew Volunteer Fire Department to start a fund to raise money to buy a monument or to construct a concrete based flag pole to permanently mark the name of the park.
There was no action taken at this time by neither the village board nor the fire department until 1969 when rumors were afloat that the park was to be re-named to honor a deceased member of the village board.
In the fall of 1969 a committee was appointed from the Board of Wardens to secure a permanent monument dedicated to the deceased firemen of the Village of Depew and placed in “Firemen’s Park”.
The committee appointed was chaired by Warden Arthur J. Domino and assisted by Wardens Joseph LiPuma, Richard Basher, Jack Ott, Fred Furminger and Charles Scherer.
After meeting with the representatives of the Board of Wardens and the Fire Chief, the Village of Depew Planning Board recommended to the Village Board on December 23, 1969 to allow the Depew Fire Department to erect a monument and flag pole dedicated to the deceased firemen of the Village of Depew. “We believe this to be a commendable gesture, in as much as, this park is already dedicated as “Firemen’s Park”. The cost of the monument and flagpole and its erection will be paid by the fire department.
Due to the fact that the park is not fully developed, we are in agreement that the southeast corner of the park can be developed as a “Parade Ground” which would serve as a firemen’s inspection area and any memorial services that would be conducted.
We feel confident the Village Board would see fit to assist with any grading or sight work that would be conducive to making this immediate approach to the park very attractive. It is the desire of the Fire Department to have the project ready for the September 1970 inspection.
At first the committee decided to purchase a granite stone to be used as a monument but after securing several prices the committee decided the cost of purchase of a granite stone was prohibitive.
In the early summer of 1970, a search began in earnest to secure a natural stone to serve as a permanent marker. After considerable searching, Assistant Chief Frank Capan along with several of the committee members found several appropriate stones located in a quarry owned by the Clarence Sand & Gravel Corporation. With Assistant Chief Capan being friendly with Paul Schmidt, the owner of the quarry, a donation of several stones was secured.
After the stones were found permission was granted by the Village Board to have the DPW provide the manpower and equipment to pick up the stones and to provide all necessary labor to set the stone and grade the area.
The committee would secure the plaque to be mounted on the stone, the flagpole and secure the landscaping to enhance the setting of the monument.
The dedication of the monument to permanently mark the name of Firemen’s Park took place on Saturday evening September 12, 1970 at 7:00 p.m. during the annual Fire Department Inspection.
After a parade from the south side fire station up Terrace Boulevard to Firemen’s Park, Fire Chiefs from the Lancaster Fire Council, the members of the Village Board and members of Twin Village Post V.F.W. Post 463, who provided an American Flag in an impressive ceremony, joined the department for the inspection and dedication.
Arthur Koske, Sr. of West Seneca, Past President of the Erie County Volunteer Firemen’s Association was the guest speaker. Mayor Joseph Natale and Fire Chief Robert Fiegl unveiled the memorial plaque.
Reverend Robert R. Erickson, Protestant Chaplain of the Fire Department in his remarks said to all of the children and adults present that through the concentrated efforts of the deceased firemen and the active ones, the facilities that they enjoy at this site are the product of their foresight with the aid of the Village Board and elected officials.
The monument designating Firemen’s Park would remain in place until 2004 when a committee was formed by the Board of Wardens to build a Firemen’s Memorial to honor all of the men of the Depew Fire Department.
The committee was composed of Robert Brotz, Martin Lebedzinski, Past Chief Ronald D. Maciejewski, Brian Musielak and Tracey Sundberg. Other members of the department also assisted. State Senator Dale Volker also assisted by securing funding through a state grant.
The original stone was removed and it was planned to re-set the stone to a location at the extreme southeast corner of the “Parade Ground” under a Welcoming Sign, which identified the complex as Firemen’s Park.
A part of the memorial would be a Walk of Honor with inscribed bricks honoring all of the Past Chiefs of The Depew Fire Department. Additional bricks were to be made available to honor all former members of the Depew Fire Department who chose or their families chose to have their names inscribed on the Walk of Honor.
The dedication of the Firemen’s memorial and the Walk of Honor took place at the Annual Fire Department Inspection on September 10, 2005.
The original stone was re-set, as planned, by the men of the Village of Depew Department of Public Works in preparation for the Annual Fire Department Inspection on September 09, 2006.