Naugatuck’s World War I monument won’t be done for Veterans Day

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The World War I monument in downtown Naugatuck might not be repaired in time for Veterans Day. A grassroots committee raised more than $41,000 for the repairs, which were delayed while waiting for signatures and then by Hurricane Irene. - CN ARCHIVE

NAUGATUCK — The borough’s Veterans Day ceremony might be held around a dilapidated World War I monument again this year.

Efforts to fix the damaged and crumbling monument next to Salem School have been delayed, first while it awaited approval from the Board of Mayor and Burgesses and then by Hurricane Irene, according to Ron Fischer, chairman of the grassroots committee for the project.

“I was hoping to have it completed before Veterans Day,” Fischer said. “I don’t know when it will be completed.”

The limestone pedestal topped by a 50-foot flagpole overlooking the Green is the centerpiece of the borough’s Veterans Day ceremonies. Fisher wanted the borough to rededicate the monument as part of this year’s holiday, assuming repairs were complete

The monument, dedicated in 1920, was designed and sculpted by Evelyn Beatrice Longman, who also created the Spanish-American War Memorial in Hartford and worked on the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.

The names of 30 local men who died fighting in World War I are inscribed in the stone. Over the years, a built-in drainage system has failed, runoff has caused discoloration and the stone has cracked and chipped.

The World War I Monument Fund Committee in June finished raising the $40,000 needed for ConservArt of Hamden, the restoration company in charge of the repairs, to work on the monument.

The borough owns the monument and donated $25,000 from reserve funds to fix it, so the borough board had to approve the repairs and have Mayor Robert A. Mezzo sign off on them. Waiting for the necessary signatures delayed the project for weeks, Fischer said.

ConservArt managed to repair the drainage system and sandblast the rosette around the flagpole’s base before Hurricane Irene, Fischer said. In anticipation of the storm, work stopped and the scaffolding around the monument was removed so it would not blow over, Fischer said.

Nearly a month after the hurricane, Fischer said he has not heard when work is supposed to resume. Francis Miller, the project’s conservator, did not return a call Tuesday seeking comment.

Fischer said he was pleased with the work Miller has done.

“I have a lot of confidence in him,” he said. “He’s been doing a good job so far, and I think he will do a great job.”

The Beacon Valley Grange donated $1,000 toward the monument, which could be used to pay ConservArt overruns, Fischer said.

“If I don’t spend all the money, then what I intend to do is negotiate a maintenance contract with them, so in the future we can keep this thing up,” Fischer said.