Saratoga County

Groundbreaking set for submarine vets monument

Thousands of submarine sailors have passed through the Ballston Spa area over the past 60 years, tha

Thousands of submarine sailors have passed through the Ballston Spa area over the past 60 years, thanks to the West Milton naval training site.

Their presence — and the fact that many former submariners have settled in the area — is one of the reasons a monument to submarine sailors is going to be built in the village, at a prominent location off of Route 50 downtown.

“We wanted it to be in a place where it becomes an attraction for the village,” said Al Singleman of Rotterdam, chairman of the nonprofit Albany-Saratoga Sub Vets Memorial Foundation.

Work on the memorial will start this summer. The foundation has already raised about $40,000 of the $50,000 to $60,000 that members believe is needed.

“We have enough money to proceed,” Singleman said.

A groundbreaking ceremony at the Veterans Memorial Park on Low Street is scheduled for about 11:30 a.m. this Saturday, after the village’s annual Memorial Day parade and ceremony. Singleman said that officers from the active-duty nuclear submarine USS Albany and the Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory training site in West Milton are expected to attend the ceremony.

“No other state has anything like this,” Singleman said.

Ballston Spa is only a few miles from the West Milton site, where an estimated 120,000 sailors have trained to operate naval nuclear reactors. Many of the program’s instructors stay in the area after their retirement.

The idea for a monument to New York submarine sailors has been under discussion since a national submarine veterans’ convention was held in Saratoga Springs in 2004.

The centerpiece of the monument will be a black granite stone bearing the names of 447 New York state residents who have died in service on submarines. Most were lost during World War II, which saw 52 of the 65 military submarine sinkings that have taken place since 1900.

The monument should be done by Veterans Day in November, Singleman said.

Then in 2012, the foundation plans to install a 20-foot-long compressed foam and Kevlar model of the USS Albany near the Milton Avenue side of the park.

Village officials, who a year ago granted permission for the foundation to install the monument, are thrilled that it is going forward, and they believe that it will attract people to the village.

“This will be a huge plus for the village and a fitting tribute to sailors of New York state who made the ultimate sacrifice,” said Mayor John P. Romano.

The village and the foundation are also working with American Legion Henry Cornell Post 234 and VFW Post 358 to raise money for the monument and for a “Veterans’ Walk of Honor” by selling brick pavers on which a veteran’s name or another message can be inscribed.

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