Foundation presents fundraising goal, timeline
By John Faucher
New London City Council unanimously approved Taft Park as the official site for the New London Veterans Memorial at its July 14 meeting.
On July 7, Veterans Memorial Foundation Secretary Jim Jaeger gave an update on anticipated costs, fundraising goals and a general timeline to the city’s Parks and Recreation Committee.
Jaeger passed around a large poster drawing of the proposed memorial design.
“The Veterans Memorial Foundation unanimously voted on Taft Park for the site of the new memorial,” Jaeger said.
The foundation was seeking final city approval to proceed.
Jaeger said that the anticipated construction timeline could take two to three years, with some early phases of the project occurring as early as this fall.
“Everyone in our group is honed in on this and ready to go full speed ahead,” Jaeger said.
The Foundation has raised several thousand dollars already and it has formed a separate fundraising committee.
Jaeger said two funding methods are in place. The committee will continue soliciting private donations and it will sell tribute bricks for the memorial wall. Families can have the names of veterans engraved on a 4-by-8 inch tribute brick on the wall of honor for $150.
Jaeger said the memorial is open to the names of any veteran that honorably served in any branch of the military.
“The memorial will not be specific to just New London veterans,” said Jaeger.
There is currently space for just over 1,100 names with planned room to expand two additional panels. The panels will be made from black granite and take six months to arrive from Africa once they are ordered.
Jaeger said the estimated cost for the memorial is around $200,000.
The first phase of construction will involve moving the existing granite war memorial to the east side of the property. He said the estimated cost of moving the 16,600-pound structure is $2,100, which included a new foundation.
“We’re hoping to have that accomplished yet this fall,” Jaeger said.
He said that the foundation will utilize local contractors for much of the work on the memorial.
He also asked the committee for permission to place a temporary fundraising goal thermometer in the park for citizens to see the progress on their efforts.
Members agreed that this was a good idea.
Alderman Ron Steinhorst addressed the foundation members.
“I am amazed. You’ve come a long way in a very short time,” Steinhorst said.
Alderman Rob Way agreed. “There’s certainly a lot of enthusiasm for this,” Way said.
Veterans Memorial Foundation public relations officer Bob Dessort smiled and gestured to his fellow committee members.
“Well, we’re not getting any younger,” said Dessort. “That gives us a little more determination to see it finished before we’re gone.”
Council members thanked foundation members for the volumes of work they have taken on for the project.
The group meets at the V.F.W post at 6 p.m. on the first Thursday of each month. The fundraising committee meets at 5 p.m. prior to the regular meeting.
Members on the newly formed fundraising committee include Carrie Karow, Armin Conrad, Bob Dessort, Brian Quaintance, Dick Dietz, Jim Jaeger and Jim Massonet.