STONINGTON – The Finance Council will consider a proposal tonight that, if approved, would use $86,420 of American Rescue Plan Act funds to help cover costs as the community seeks to move forward with the installation of the much sought-after Stonington Veterans Monument.
First selector Danielle Chesebrough, members of the Veterans Monument committee led by David Brown, and Ocean Community Chamber of Commerce President Lisa Konicki have teamed up to make the request, which comes with a slight twist – the requested money would be specifically used to provide work opportunities. for local artists.
The funding would “catapult” an 18-month fundraising effort to the finish line and provide a matching goodwill donation from the city without asking taxpayers for the money directly, Chesebrough said. She said this would allow the project to go ahead while prices are still fixed and warned that failure to meet deadlines could result in significantly higher costs.
“We were able to strike a deal with Buzzi Memorials and provide a down payment that allowed us to get a fair price before the recent impact of inflation,” Chesebrough said. “We are now on a timetable, and if we cannot find a way to raise funds, we are looking at a considerable increase in the overall price.
The concept of the memorial was first introduced to the city half a decade ago when Korean War Army veteran Anthony L. Lombardo learned in 2017 that the residents of Pawcatuck were not eligible to have their names added to the Western War Veterans Memorial.
After asking for help in bringing attention to the fact that local veterans were not being properly recognized, he found support from members of the Pawcatuck Fire Department, and officials worked with Lombardo and Harley P. Chase veterans of the Post 1265 Foreign Wars in Pawcatuck to create a partnership. with the aim of making the memorial a reality.
However, deed restrictions soon halted the project, but continued volunteer efforts eventually identified the green space in front of the Stonington Police Department as an ideal location for the project, and a committee was formed to begin work. fundraising and design efforts.
The monument, which will be an eight-sided granite memorial, will list the names of more than 7,000 residents who have served in the military since World War I and is expected to include interactive components that visitors can connect to using of mobile devices.
Chesebrough executive assistant Stacey Haskell has since taken the lead in planning and fundraising efforts.
“In just over 15 months, we’ve managed to rack up approximately $110,000, which is a remarkable achievement, I believe,” Brown said in a letter submitted to the Finance Council ahead of tonight’s meeting. “We were fortunate that very many citizens (several hundred) and some fairly substantial donations from local grants and businesses got us there…but we are still about $90,000 away from reaching our cost. total of $200,000 to complete the project.”
Chesebrough said the request made would seek to reallocate ARPA funding that was originally set aside for HVAC repairs at Stonington Human Services – the city decided not to go ahead with the project after bids were received at nearly four times the expected rates and well in excess of the $340,000 allotted, officials said — and to emphasize the arts as part of the request.
In fact, Chesebrough said the funding still wouldn’t go through even with ARPA’s request, and the volunteers pledged to raise the remaining $15,000 in the coming months, including hosting a table at Mystic Outdoor. Arts Festival this month, a year-long effort, brought in several thousand dollars in donations.
To date, the project has received 297 separate donations and received six grants. Under Haskell, there have been 19 fundraising and networking events since June 2021.
Konicki said in a letter to the Finance Council that although she could not attend in person, she personally worked with Chesebrough and the committee to ensure that any funds allocated would not only benefit the monument, but the artistic community as a whole.
“The $86,420 would pay for eight porcelain sides that will be placed on the monument as well as an allowance for the artist(s) who will design the artwork on the porcelain,” Konicki said. “This is an important aspect of the construction of the monument and deserves the financial support of ARPA.
“The sooner we can complete this project to honor our veterans, the better,” she said.
Members of the finance council are expected to vote on the request tonight at their meeting, which is due to start at 7:15 p.m. in the community hall at the police station.