VACAVILLE — Jim Ball is a Vietnam veteran. He was one of the lucky ones, he said. He returned.
But 59 other Solano County residents didn’t return alive.
Ball’s dream of memorializing them in a one-acre grove of 59 Chinese pistache trees shaped in a heart is moving forward. He now has a lease in the works with the city for the land, which is in the open space on the east side of the former Heinz Nursery in the Lagoon Valley area.
He plans to start the grove this fall.
Ball’s agreement with the city includes planting, maintaining and watering the trees over a five-year period. He’ll also have educational kiosks available for visitors.
In five years the land will go back to the city, but Ball will move on to the second phase of his dream, which is a 100-acre park with 5,300 trees, one tree for every Californian lost in the conflict. The 59 pistache trees will be duplicated at the new location and become the focal point of the park.
Ball called it a future “place of remembrance but also one of celebration.”
His business plan calls for the Center of Imaginative Reuse to be relocated at its permanent home in the park after the five-year lease is up on a former bus station. Ball is working with volunteers and city staff to revamp the bus station, including handicap-access updates and fixing the building’s integrity. He had to move the center out of its former location on Parker Street. The center’s donated recycled items are currently in storage. He said he hopes to have the center open at the former bus station in mid-June or July.
“(The center) is our first step to financially standing on our own with the 100-acre park,” Ball said. “Each piece of the puzzle leads to the next piece.”
Reach Susan Winlow at 427-6955 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/swinlowdr.