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12 years in the making: Parking lot to be dedicated to fallen soldier

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It's been more than a decade in the making – and on Sunday a parking lot near New London will be dedicated to a fallen soldier.

The idea began in 2003, when Ryane Clark was 15 years old and was looking for an Eagle Scout project that would help the community. That's when he remembered his friend, Cody Berg, who was fatally hit by a car while riding his bike in 187th Avenue near New London back in 1999, New London's website says.

Clark wanted to make the area – located near the Glacial Lakes State Trail – safer by adding a parking lot for people who planned to use the trail.

But his idea was met with a lot of red tape, including clashes with the Department of Natural Resources and other agencies, the Star Tribune says, so he moved on and decided to work with the Prairie Woods Environmental Learning Center on a project instead, New London's website notes.

Clark never forgot about that parking lot.

Then, in 2010, when Clark was 22 years old, he deployed in Afghanistan and was killed, the West-Central Tribune reported.

Since then, his parents – Tracy and Rick Clark – have been battling to turn their son's dream into a reality, reports note.

Finally, in 2014, with the help of former State Rep. Mary Sawatzky, the Clarks started to see progress with the parking lot, and back in July, officials broke ground on the lot, New London's website says.

Last month, volunteers added flag poles and a memorial bench to the site, KSTP reported. The family plans to add a memorial stone next year.

The parking lot has been open, but it will officially be dedicated as SPC Ryane Glenn Clark Memorial Park on Sunday at 2 p.m., New London's website says.

“I think he’s just like ‘yes,’ finally. Knowing him, he’s smiling from ear to ear, sitting right with Cody and smiling,” Tracy Clark told WCCO.

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