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The Anthem Veterans Memorial will be discussed at tonight’s Anthem Community Council meeting. If measures on the agenda are approved by the board construction on the project would begin on approximately July 11 and would be completed no later than Sept. 30.

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Anthem Community Council to rule on Veterans Memorial

MARC BUCKHOUT ~ MANAGING EDITOR ~4/27/2011

It isn’t as tangible as erecting the marble pillars in the ground, but tonight’s 6:30 Anthem Community Council meeting figures to wrap up the final hurdles in making the Anthem Veterans Memorial a reality.
At a special meeting on April 20 the ACC heard a final presentation about the memorial from Ron Tucker, the chair of the project, which has been in the planning stages dating back to the middle of 2009.
With a planned opening ceremony scheduled on Veteran’s Day, Nov. 11, 2011, the project’s finances were discussed in detail. Tucker broke down costs for materials, the funds that have been raised by the committee and the amount the committee is seeking from the Anthem Community Council to push the project forward.
What Tucker’s committee once estimated as a $125,000 project is now being projected out at $191,765.
“There is nothing lying in the grass we don’t know about at this point,” Tucker said. “We feel pretty good about the number for total cost we’ve given you. To this point we’ve raised $95,850 and Pulte is coming forward with a gift of another $17,000. That gives us a total projected income of more than $112,000 toward the project. If you do the math that’s less than $80,000 in cost that council would have to account for.”
While the Anthem Community Council committed up to $125,000 of enhancement funds to the project in Nov. 2009 the Council will consider a revised motion at tonight’s meeting that takes into account the new budgeted price tag of $191,765.
At the March ACC meeting board member Bill Clower said the board needed to revise their initial measure, explaining that what was originally adopted by the board only authorized funding of the project to the $125,000 mark. Any money raised in paver sales or other donations made toward the project was to reimburse the enhancement funds used.
Under the current measure the ACC would only be putting $13,000 worth of enhancement funds toward the project, the difference between the funds raised ($112,000) and the initial cost projection of ($125,000), leaving some $66,000 toward the project unfunded.
At tonight’s meeting the council will consider a motion to replace the original funding authorization for the Memorial. If approved, the new measure will commit a total not to exceed $94,000 toward the project to ensure its timely completion.
The measure reads further that any new donations received will reduce any actual expenditures out of the allocation on a dollar for dollar basis through the replenishment of enhancement funds.
Any donations received above and beyond the total project cost will be earmarked exclusively for funding the upkeep, maintenance, and/or betterment of the Memorial.
At the request of Tucker’s committee the ACC is in the process of getting 501 C3 status for the Memorial. The committee believes that acquiring the 501 C3 status will aid efforts in acquiring donations from the corporate level because of the ability to make the donation a tax write off. Council member Craig Boates estimated the process would be completed within a couple of weeks.
The ACC also will rule on whether to authorize Community Executive Officer Jenna Kollings to execute a contract with Haydon Building Corporation in an amount not to exceed $68,350. Construction would begin on or around July 15 and to be fully completed in advance of the Memorial’s dedication on Nov. 11.
Ron Jerich suggested that the language of the contract needs to have some stipulation regarding the work being complete prior to the Nov. 11 deadline.
“It would be folly on our part if we don’t have some sort of safeguard in place,” he said.
Jerich also asked Tucker if there were any cuts to the project that could be made to lower its final cost.
“At this point I think it would be a mistake to sub optimize. I would suggest you look at the Tempe Veterans Memorial. There’s cost $2 to $3 million. I’m sorry, but we’re getting ours done for less than $200,000 and we’re getting a masterpiece.”
One member of the audience, who identified himself as a veteran, asked whether the timing for the memorial was right.
“I’m a veteran and have veterans in my family all the way back to the Revolutionary War,” he said. “I’m curious what is the urgency to build this now? Couldn’t you wait until you had all the money for this project before building it? I served. I don’t need a monument. My satisfaction was having the chance to serve my country and get an education. Is this something we need?”
Tucker, also a Veteran, responded.
“I wouldn’t characterize it as a sense of urgency,” he said. “This is a project that has been supported by the people that live here. I think it’s safe to say that a lot of us want to do something to recognize our community’s veterans. Enhancement funds are for projects that enhance the community. We think this is the epitome of what they are meant for. This is going to be a stunning addition to our community’s public art. We also think this will bring people in to our community.”
Council member Bob Copen said at this point there is a time element necessitating the project move forward.
“In selling this project and marketing it around the community, the county and the state the Nov. 11 event has always been put out there,” Copen said. “We’re in a bit of a pickle, because to put it off would leave us with egg all over our face. We need this. We have to step up to the plate and move forward the best we can.”
Steve Champion, a member in the audience, said he is of the impression that financing the project at this time may very well be cost beneficial.
“I too am a veteran, but I’m also a financial person,” he said. “I understand the work that was involved in conceiving this project. I understand the volunteer hours to culminate this project. I would suggest to you that we have had a lot of things come together in the last year plus. I think things have come together nicely and that this project could cost substantially more if you were to put it off. I don’t think that’s a gamble that we should take. I think we should move forward and get this project launched.”
The special meeting was called at the request of Tucker who will be unavailable for tonight’s meeting. Rather than vote at the special meeting Boates motioned to table the issues until tonight’s meeting.
He said without an urgent deadline such a big issue should be dealt with during a regular meeting, explaining that it would give more members of the community a chance to attend and voice their feelings.
Delaying the vote also means that incoming council members Ray Norris, representing Country Club and Tim Fyke, representing Parkside will get to be in on the vote at their first meeting as members of the council.
The meeting takes place at 6:30 p.m. at the Anthem Community Center, located at 3701 W. Anthem Way. For the meeting’s complete agenda go to onlineatanthem.com/sites/default/files/042711-council-agenda.pdf.