Fiorentini to Name Panel to Design New Vietnam War Memorial Tuesday

Jay Saulnier photograph for WHAV News

The current Vietnam War memorial sits on the Water Street side of the Basiliere Bridge. (Jay Saulnier photograph for WHAV News)

Two months after local veterans implored Mayor James J. Fiorentini to relocate and revamp Haverhill’s existing Vietnam War Memorial, he’ll name an 11-member committee at Tuesday night’s City Council meeting to do just that.

The panel will be co-chaired by Ralph T. Basiliere, the nephew of Haverhill’s first Vietnam War casualty, and Chris Smardz. Others named to the committee include Michael Ingham, the city’s Veterans Services Director, John Ratka of Northeast Veterans Outreach Center, and fellow veterans Keith Gopsill and Gerald Boucher. Lynda Brown and Councilors Melinda E. Barrett, Joseph J. Bevilacqua and Thomas J. Sullivan will also take part.

Click image for Haverhill City Council agenda.

As Baisiliere tells WHAV, the group is initially tasked with finding a safe and respectful spot for the current memorial to relocate to. Then, members will design, fundraise for and commission a new memorial.

“We’re excited about this opportunity because we can properly commemorate the living and the lost veterans,” Basiliere told WHAV. “Perhaps finally we can finally exorcise the shameful specter of how our returning brothers were treated.”

One location in strong contention is a small park on Mill Street near the entrance to Plug’s Pond. Council Vice President Sullivan explained that the area is rooted in Haverhill military history and could be a natural fit.

“It used to be used as a training ground for veterans from Haverhill who served in the Vietnam conflict. They were known as Company A. Given the history of that location, it becomes a good place to look at,” said Sullivan.

Winnekenni, Kenoza Lake and Ginty Boulevard are also being floated as possible relocation spots.

Tuesday’s City Council meeting will be broadcast live by 97.9 WHAV FM starting at 7 p.m. from City Hall’s Theodore A. Pelosi, Jr. Chambers of 4 Summer St., room 202.