To the frustration of the War Memorial Committee members, the Wenham Board of Selectmen has handed the design of the proposed War Memorial to the Town Hall/Police Station Building Committee.
The selectmen last week told the building committee to work collaborately with the War Memorial Committee, which has been working on the memorial siting and design for three and a half years.
The selectmen want the design finalized in time to present it for approval to the fall Town Meeting. They set a deadline of Sept. 9 for the agreed-on design to be submitted to them.
Members of the War Memorial Committee said they feel like the town has not appreciated their work to design and find a location for the memorial.
“It is so frustrating,” said committee co-chair Bruce Blanchard, who said the committee may decide to take its prefered design to the Town Meeting.
Selectmen Board Chairman Molly Martins said, “I understand their (the War Memorial Committee members) frustration.” But she said it is important to remember that this memorial “is not just the War Memorial Committee's monument. It is the whole town's memorial to those who have served our country.”
The site of the memorial was finally resolved at the Town Meeting this spring. After looking at several other locations, including the Town Hall grounds, the monument will be on a portion of the Car Barn lot.
What is undecided is what the memorial will look like.
The War Memorial Committee members wanted a design that would be different from “all the other memorial statues you see around the country,” Blanchard said.
The committee favored a longer, lower style monument that represented all five military services. Critics, including building committee chairman John Darling, said it looked too much like the Seaman's Monument in Gloucester. The Historical Commission also favored a different design.
To accommodate the critics of the design, the War Memorial Committee redesigned the proposal – its fifth different design, Blanchard said. The new design would be 18 feet tall and have an eagle and globe on top, he said.
Other officials, including some building committee members, have said they would prefer to have something that looked more traditional like the Civil War monument, which stands in front of Town Hall.
The war memorial should reflect many things, including the town's history and heritage, Martins said. She wants something that will be standing long after “we have passed.”
She urged everyone involved to “put aside their frustrations. We are in the final stretch. Hopefully everyone can not look back too much.”