Final Construction Phase Begins at Haverhill’s New Vietnam Veterans Memorial at Mill Brook Park

Knight Construction of Walpole begins work at the Mill Brook Park site. (WHAV News photograph.)

Ralph T. Basiliere, chairman of Haverhill’s Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial Ad Hoc Commission, displays a the Covanta donation. (Courtesy photograph.)

The final construction phase of Haverhill’s new Vietnam Veterans Memorial—which will feature two new monuments—got underway yesterday with many thanks and little fanfare.

Knight Construction of Walpole began preparations at the new Mill Brook Park site. The landscape masonry contractor will be creating brick-paved walkways to two circular areas where footings are to be placed for monuments, said Ralph T. Basiliere, chairman of Haverhill’s Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial Ad Hoc Commission. He describes some of the work taking place.

“We’re bringing in a seven-ton obelisk and a new ‘13’ memorial and education stanchions made of granite. They’re all coming from the same quarry that the original ‘13’ memorial came from,” he said.

Basiliere explained the obelisk—also 13-feet tall in honor of the 13 lost veterans—salutes the service of all men and women who served in Vietnam, while a new memorial, honoring those who gave their lives during the war, will be erected. The existing memorial, cut from Barre, Vt. granite, will be retired because of damage and buried under the walkway with dignity and honor normally reserved for retiring a flag. A new flagpole and benches will also be placed.

The current phase of the project costs $31,000 and builds on $65,000 of previous work to install curbing, drainage, tree work, new tree plantings and loam. Because of protections in place since the outbreak of the coronavirus, the inability to continue with two fundraisers placed the project in jeopardy. The day was saved, Basiliere said, when Covanta of Haverhill stepped up with the largest private donation, $8,000.

“The Commission is grateful for Covanta’s meaningful commitment to support our veterans and this project,” Basiliere said.

Covanta’s Market Area Manager Mark Van Weelden said, “Covanta has a long history of supporting all veterans through its continued active participation in many veteran organizations as well as its preferred veteran hiring programs,” adding, “As a veteran myself who works side by side with many fellow veterans at Covanta, I am very proud that we were able to help to give the Vietnam Veterans Memorial a new permanent home that will stand proudly and respectfully educate many generations to come.”

Covanta Facility Manager Bill Zaneski added, “I cannot think of a better way to continue honoring our Vietnam veterans.  I too am a veteran and very proud to be part of a project that will truly live up to the words ‘You are not forgotten.’”

Led by Sen. Diana DiZoglio, the legislature granted $15,000 to the project last year, followed by another $35,000 in a supplemental budget secured by Reps. Linda Dean Campbell, Andy X. Vargas, Lenny Mirra and Christina A. Minicucci.

Basiliere said some plantings and maintenance money may be temporarily omitted. He hopes those costs might be covered, in part, by what is being called a “Speakeasy” fundraiser now planned for Saturday, Sept. 26, 6-10 p.m., at DiBurro’s in Ward Hill.

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