Doris Miller Memorial

Construction workers pour concrete around a hull-like form as work continues on the first phase of the Doris Miller Memorial in Bledsoe-Miller Park.

Backers of the Doris Miller Memorial are requesting more money from the downtown Tax Increment Financing Zone to finish the first phase of work honoring the hometown Pearl Harbor hero.

As construction continues in Bledsoe-Miller Park, project officials have realized they need more money than the $180,132 already given by the TIF. The new request is for $236,106, which would complete the $1.2 million first phase of a project expected to cost about $2.5 million, city economic development director Melett Harrison said.

Doreen Ravenscroft, the founder, president and executive director of Cultural Arts of Waco and the leader of the project, said she is excited for Thursday, when the TIF board visits the site as part of a tour at 10:30 a.m. The board will hold its official meeting at noon on the third floor of City Hall.

“We are making a request because of the increased cost on the site of public improvements after changes that happened since 2016,” Ravenscroft said. “So we have submitted a second request, and we present on Thursday. I hope it will be an exciting day.”

Floodplain map changes have increased the cost of the project, Harrison said.

“In essence, from a TIF standpoint, it’s really a public project,” she said. “TIF is about public improvements and that is really a significant public improvement. It’s a memorial to a very deserving Wacoan, but it will also be public art.”

Half of the approximately requested amount would be made upon 70 percent construction completion, and the rest would be made at full completion. City Center Waco, a nonprofit overseen by the city, also recommended the approval.

Harrison also said all donors of the project will be recognized on plaques at the site.

The TIF zone collects revenue from the property tax base and has representatives from four entities: the city of Waco, McLennan County, McLennan Community College and Waco Independent School District.

Miller was a Navy mess attendant on the USS West Virginia in December 1941, a time when African-Americans were limited to menial work in the Navy. When the attacks on Pearl Harbor began, Miller saved shipmates and an officer while taking fire, then fired at Japanese planes from a machine gun. He became the first African-American to win the Navy Cross.

A statue of Miller was unveiled at the site in December.

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