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SHPMC’s Newest Design Revision Praised As ‘Impressive Work’ At Recent Meeting



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Leading up to Thanksgiving, the Sandy Hook Permanent Memorial Commission (SHPMC) appeared to have a lot to be thankful for.

After months of uncertainty with the future of its permanent memorial design, the commission reviewed the most recent design revision at a Special Meeting on November 25, and it garnered much positive feedback.

During the meeting, SHPMC members and First Selectmen Dan Rosenthal spoke over the phone with Daniel Affleck and Ben Waldo of SWA Group, based out of San Francisco.

The two designers presented a slideshow that displayed the specific updates they made and the costs associated with the project.

This fourth design revision comes after the SHPMC chose SWA’s original memorial design and recommended it to the Board of Selectmen in September 2018. The original design was unanimously approved by the selectmen and the members of the commission.

However, when it was revealed that the original design was estimated to cost between 10 to 12 million dollars to create, First Selectmen Dan Rosenthal requested Mr Affleck and Mr Waldo create three budgeted options.

Three revised designs were submitted to the commission earlier this year with reduced prices of $5 million, $4 million, and $3.3 million options.

When none of the three revised designs resonated with the commission members, the group had Mr Rosenthal investigate fundraising options over the last few months.

At the last SHPMC meeting in October, the fundraising path was deemed not viable.

Moving forward, the commission created a detailed list of design elements they did not want to lose — including multiple pathways throughout the site, the Sacred Sycamore, and incorporating the two ponds — and submitted it to SWA to incorporate in a fourth revision.

Updates, Cost

For the “braided pathways” on the site, the material was changed to compacted gravel (making it still ADA accessible) and the pathway width was reduced from 6 feet to 5 feet.

Since the ponds were an important element to keep, there will be wood deck areas with a cane guard edge and a larger deck for the east pond.

The memorial clearing will have a two-foot radius reduction on the paved area, a one-foot reduction of the memorial feature, and no change to the water feature’s mechanics.

As for the overlook, the pavilion was completely removed, and the parking lot was reduced, allowing for additional garden space. The President Barack Obama quote will be incorporated on a plaque and “seatwall.”

According to the presentation chart, SWA estimates that the updated design will cost $2.79 million. After factoring a 15 percent contingency of $419,000 and a 17 percent total consultant fee of $485,000, the total project cost is $3.69 million.

The cost breakdown shows mobilization, site preparation, utilities, and parking will account for 38 percent of the cost; plantings, irrigation, and establishment will make up 11 percent of the cost; and the memorial clearing, pathways, furnishings, lighting, and security will consist of 51 percent of the cost.


“I appreciate how quickly you turned this around based on all the information that I shared of feedback from the other designs,” Mr Rosenthal said to Mr Affleck and Mr Waldo after the presentation.

SHPMC Vice Chair Alan Martin followed by saying, “I think it’s very impressive the work that you did in a short period of time. My sense is that you really captured the spirit and the essence of the design.”

SHPMC member Sarah Middeleer praised the designers for their “wonderful work” and that after seeing this update, she feels much more encouraged than she did in previous meetings.

“You did a great job,” SHPMC member Donna Van Waalwijk added, saying she is pleased with the presentation.

After members took time to ask questions and get feedback from the designers, the more than half an hour phone call ended.

Mr Rosenthal said that there was no need to do a formal vote, since the original design had already been approved, and that based on the remarks of the commission members present, it sounded like there were no issues with the revised design.

Going forward, Mr Rosenthal said he will get more information about a timeline for the project and that any concerns about the design can be sent to him to present to SWA.

The next Sandy Hook Permanent Memorial Commission meeting is scheduled for January 9, 2020. To contact the commission, e-mail sandyhookpermanentmemorial@gmail.com.

Members of the Sandy Hook Permanent Memorial Commission — pictured, from left, Brian Engel, Pat Llodra, Alan Martin, Daniel Krauss, and Tricia Pinto — listen attentively as Daniel Affleck and Ben Waldo of SWA Group go over the design revisions displayed on the projector screen on the evening of November 25. —Bee Photos, Silber
An updated image of the Sacred Sycamore element illuminates the dark room from the projector in the Municipal Center on November 25.
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