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Vets Commission Makes Plans to Vet Architectural Offerings in May Meeting

Vets Commission Makes Plans to Vet Architectural Offerings

By Michael McAllister

At their regular monthly meeting on May 14, the five members of Grinnell’s Veterans Memorial Commission moved to set a plan in motion to yield two sets of architectural plans for the Veterans Memorial Building that will become—if the full campaign is successful—the Prairie Star Artist Residency in the Veterans Memorial Building.

Once the meeting was called to order, the agenda, slightly modified, was approved as were the minutes of the previous meeting of April 9.

No detailed monthly budget report was presented.  Commission Chair Leo Lease referred to documents included in the meeting packet and cited the sum of $33,000.  “We’ve spent about half of it,” he said, and invited questions.  There were none.

Nicole Brua-Behrens of the Greater Poweshiek Community Foundation was not at the meeting; thus there was no balance report from the foundation.

No bills were listed on the agenda.  Lease noted that a utility bill and charges from Amperage Marketing will appear next month.

Clockwise from upper left: Marie Andrews, Gwen Rieck, Randy Hotchkin, Terry Stringfellow, Leo Lease


Under the agenda item “Update on Amperage Marketing & Fundraising,” Tom Lacina reported as follows:

At a meeting held near the end of February, more than fifty individuals who could be key to a successful fundraising drive were identified.  Letters from Amperage to those individuals were mailed recently—in most cases, late last week.  Follow-up contact on a confidential, one-on-one basis will begin soon.

Of the people contacted, approximately 80 percent are in Grinnell.

The discussions are intended to assess several aspects of the project—the Veterans Memorial Building itself, the intended programming, the readiness and leadership within the community, and so on.

Lacina predicted that the discussion phase should wrap up by late June with a final report by the end of summer.

As for architectural proposals, out of five firms invited, two responded, Lacina reported:  RDG and CMBA.  Both firms are well known in Grinnell as RDG designed the Central Park renovation, and CMBA earned the Grinnell-Newburg School District’s nod to develop improvement plans for the middle school, the high school, and a building for the city’s elementary schools.

Lacina commented on the amount of time involved in a project such as the Prairie Star Residency proposal.

“It feels slow,” he said, “but it’s a process.”  He commented further that the various entities are working well together.

“We are particularly grateful to the city for their cooperation,” Leo Lease interjected.  He cited especially the city’s experience with construction projects, adding, “We couldn’t do this without them.”

The agenda called for an “update on other fundraising activities,” but no other activities were noted.

In connection with that item, however, Randy Hotchkin reported that two posters are now displayed in the windows of the front doors of the building to remind people of the project underway.  Discussion followed concerning some sort of ceremony such as a flag raising, perhaps on or near the Fourth of July, to call public attention to the proposed program.

Hotchkin also suggested that Isadore Berman, one of the members of the Veterans Memorial Commission when the building was constructed, might participate in such a ceremony. (Hotchkin had noticed Berman’s name on a plaque inside the building.)  The commission will follow up on this matter.

Lease next stressed the need for “architectural expertise that is believable and that is designed to accomplish the goals that we need to accomplish.”

He suggested that the full commission form the committee and that the two architectural firms be notified of a request for presentations.

Placed in the form of a motion and seconded, the proposal passed unanimously.

The public will also be able to participate once a presentation date is established.

Lease next reviewed some of the information asked for in the document requesting qualifications.  He stated his willingness to entertain a motion that commission members use that document in their evaluation of architectural firms.  The motion was quickly made, seconded, and all members voted in favor of it.

During the inquiry section of the meeting, a question was raised about when a date for the presentation might be set.  Lease said he would make inquiries and would try to set something soon.  One scenario proposed that each firm be given a set amount of time—say, thirty minutes—for a presentation and that both presentations take place during one meeting (with neither firm being in the room during the other firm’s presentation).

This procedure seemed to be agreed to by the commission members, and a date for the meeting, possibly the regular June Veterans Memorial Commission meeting, should be in place soon.

The public should monitor the media for an announcement.

There being no additional inquiries, the meeting was adjourned at 5:35 p.m.

The next regularly scheduled Veterans Memorial Commission meeting takes place at 5:15 p.m., Monday, June 11, in the Drake Community Library Community Room.


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