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Swampscott board relaxes guidelines for war monument

SWAMPSCOTT – Plans for a new Global War on Terror monument have been in a holding pattern for months but Veterans Agent James Schultz and members of the Monument Committee hope that is about to change.The selectmen appointed a seven-member committee in September 2009 after voting to rescind acceptance of a free monument that was criticized by some residents and town officials as being inappropriate for the historic Monument Avenue area.More than a year after that monument was rejected, some progress is being made by the committee charged with finding an appropriate way to commemorate those who served in the Middle East.The committee is comprised of Shultz; former selectmen Eric Walker and Paul Levenson; architect Richard Smith; Historical Commission designee Lou Gallo; Cindy Blonder, whose husband Jeffrey served in Afghanistan; and Jaclyn Raymond, who is the mother of Army Specialist Jared Raymond, the town’s first military casualty in Iraq.Schultz said the group had initially hoped to have a monument in place in time for a 2010 Veterans Day dedication but now it is shooting for Veterans Day 2011.Schultz said the committee worked with the Swampscott Historical Commission to come up with design guidelines for the proposed monument, which he expects would have more than 60 names on it.He added the committee is leaning toward a design that uses a black-granite center panel and another color granite on the sides.”We received two designs,” he said. “One was from O’Rourke Brothers (Salem) and the other was from Woodlawn Memorials in Everett. I think the design guidelines that we used were too restrictive because both designs were too simple and generic.”Gallo added the two options looked too much like something you’d see in a cemetery.”We want the monument to be classical looking and fit in with the historic Monument Avenue area,” Gallo said. “But we don’t want it to look like a tombstone. I think the designs need to be tweaked a little bit.”Schultz said the two companies were given relaxed guidelines and new designs should be submitted soon.”We told them both to use a little creativity,” Schultz said.Gallo said another factor that needs to be taken into account is selecting a design that could have names added at a later date without it looking like an afterthought.”Right now we have about 80 names,” Gallo said. “But it is an ongoing war and who knows how long it will last. We could have more than 100 people who served before it is over.”Schultz said the monument would also pay tribute to Swampscott residents who were non-military victims of the Global War on Terror. Robert Jalbert was aboard United Airlines Flight 175 when it slammed into the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001 and journalist Michael Kelly was killed in 2003 when he was embedded with a unit in Iraq.According to Gallo, the monument would most likely be located on Monument Avenue between the Korean and Vietnam monuments. He expects the monument would cost $25,000 or more and the committee is eager to start fundraising.Tax deductible donations for the monument can be sent to Swampscott Veterans Trust Fund, c/ o Town Hall, 22 Monument Ave., 01907.Schultz added the committee is looking for names of service members who served in the Middle East. Area residents should submit names for possible inclusion on the monument to vetagent@swampscott.town.ma.us or by calling 781-596-8853.

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