Construction costs delay Brunswick veterans plaza

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BRUNSWICK — A construction industry boom is forcing organizers of a Town Mall veterans monument plaza to postpone the project for a year.

Costs are rising to unexpected levels, the group said Monday, while unemployment below 4 percent is limiting the availability of skilled workers. Demand is also making dependable delivery of materials doubtful. 

“We’ve (also) been watching bidding on other projects, and they’re coming in quite high,” Town Councilor David Watson, who is commander of American Legion Post 20 – the project’s fiscal agent – said Tuesday.

“We did not want to compromise quality,” Watson said. “… We’re not going to back step from having a quality project.”

The Organizing Committee has delayed by a year its initial goal of completing the Maine Street plaza by this Veterans Day. Dedication is now scheduled for Nov. 11, 2020. Requests for qualifications are due to go out in January 2020, with a contractor to be chosen and contract signed that March.

“We realized that we were extremely aggressive, and we’re going to stay on that mode,” said Watson, who served in the U.S. Air Force during the Vietnam War.

The committee reported that it has raised 59 percent of its $250,000 project goal. Funds include $105,000 in grant commitments, and sponsorship of 173 of 320 available granite paver stones, or “Honor Blocks,” for more than $43,000.

The monument received approvals last year from the Town Council and Village Review Board. It will incorporate paver stones representing veterans of all branches of the military service, including the Merchant Marines. The Honor Blocks will be placed around a medallion in the center of the monument, which will depict an eagle over the stars and stripes.

The $250 pavers can be acquired through veteransplaza.info. They will include the honoree’s name, branch of service, the years they served, and the conflict in which they fought, if any.

Veterans who are not from Brunswick can also be honored. Parks and Recreation Director Tom Farrell can be reached at 725-6656 for more information.

Twelve “sentinel posts” will stand around the circular-shaped plaza, like numbers on a clock, each depicting one of the country’s armed conflicts.

A granite monument to veterans already stands at the north end of the Mall, but overgrown brush has prevented many people from knowing it’s there. That structure, which now faces the road, will be turned 180 degrees to face the green and be incorporated into the plaza.

Despite bids coming in higher than expected, the organizers are maintaining their goal amount.

“We’re hoping that when we do go out with RFQs, that it’ll be in a bidding picture (that) will be more realistic,” Watson said.

Watson said he does not fault the construction companies for the higher bids. “That’s the name of the business,” he said, while also praising the low unemployment levels.

More time to ensure things are done right isn’t so bad either, he added.

“(It) affords us some greater opportunities to continue working on the project,” Watson said. “… It won’t be so rushed.”

The plaza is designed by Richardson & Associates, a Saco landscape architecture firm.

The committee’s “unwavering interest to ensure the proposed Veterans Plaza will be a legacy project for Brunswick is impressive,” Todd Richardson, principal of the firm, said in a statement. “We feel that unforeseen market forces in the construction industry in association with the advantages time brings to securing the right contractor, and defining a more favorable installation schedule are sound reasons for this decision.”

“Having witnessed the energy and commitment of the many people involved with the project,” he added, “I can confidently say the momentum of their work, while it may be attenuated, will not waiver.”

Alex Lear can be reached at 780-9085 or alear@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

Fundraising is continuing for a veterans plaza at the northern end of Brunswick’s Maine Street Mall, although unexpectedly high construction costs will delay the project for a year.

Organizers of an effort to build a veterans monument on the Brunswick Mall have delayed its scheduled completion until November 2020. They include Town Councilor David Watson, left, who is commander of American Legion Post 20, and Tom Farrell, the town’s Parks and Recreation director.

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A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.