What should the new war veterans memorial in Wenham look like? Should it be a design that is lower to the ground or the more traditional tall, thin spire like the Civil War monument?
The Town Hall and Police Station Building Committee, the Historical Commission and the Board of Selectmen are grappling with those questions. And there is little time to come to an agreement if the issue is to be presented to in May.
The design of the monument was up for discussion last week at , when the plan for the car barn lot was presented. The tall, thin spire design was suggested as an alternative to the longer, lower design that the War Memorial committee had been working on for three years.
After the introduction of the taller, thinner design, Selectman Harriet Davis told the board at a meeting last week; "I wouldn't be surprised if they didn't all quit."
There are two warrant articles headed to Town Meeting that address the monument; one article that asks if voters approve the design and construction of a memorial and the other whether voters want to transfer control of the car barn lot to a Memorial Park Commission.
While voters could give their OK to the location at Town Meeting, "the elephant in the room is the deisgn," Moderator Paul Weaver told Selectmen last week.
The conflicting designs put both warrant articles in question, according to Selectmen Chairman Molly Martins, who said the issue may end up being better suited for a Town Meeting vote in the fall.
"I'm in support of whatever is reasonable to help the memorial exist," said Selectman John Clemenzi.
In addition to the two designs on the table, Davis said that during the last few meetings of the War Memorial Committee that some members have said they want the memorial to be next to Town Hall, although a majority favor the car barn lot.
The War Memorial Committee is planning to raise the money to construct the monument from private donations, said Bruce Blanchard, a member of the War Memorial Committee. The Town Meeting would be asked only to approve erecting the memorial at the car barn in the town center, not to appropriate funds for its construction.
The committee had generally agreed that the memorial to veterans who served in the World Wars, the Korean War and the Vietnam War would be constructed of granite with a base eight to 10 feet long. It would stand two to three feet tall with a five-sided pyramid and a globe on top, according to Blanchard.
It would look similar to the World War II memorial in Gloucester, for example.
Blanchard called the longer, lower monument “unique.” But he said some are questioning whether it fits in the town center.
A final cost estimate for the proposed memorial cannot be reached until the design is selected. Blanchard estimated that the longer, lower design would cost an estimated $100,000. He predicted that the taller spire style monument would be more expensive and would require more foundation work.
Some funding is already available, including money for maintenance of the monument. The late Winthrop Perkins, a long-time Wenham resident, left $60,000 to help build the memorial and $85,000 for maintenance in his will.
The Historical Commission will meet soon to review the plans and the competing designs. If the commission agrees on the design, there will be time to present the issue to the Town Meeting.
Otherwise, the memorial may have to wait another year.