The idea of a veterans memorial park in downtown Brunswick is one worth funding. That’s why it was included in the list of projects that would be funded through the 2016 Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax.
Unfortunately, the design for the park has turned out to be more expensive than the $1.5 million set aside for the project from the SPLOST initiative. At Tuesday’s Glynn County Commission finance meeting, it was revealed that the three bids they received for the project were $2.6 million, $2.4 million and $1.9 million.
Dave Austin, Glynn County’s Public Works Director, said at the meeting he wasn’t sure where the $1.5 million number came from as far as an estimate for the project. When the concept was added to the SPLOST 2016 list, Austin said all they had was an early concept with no price attached. We hope that practice is not replicated when the county puts together its next SPLOST list.
The question now is what to do about the funding gap? When the designs for the park were finalized in 2018, the county commission and the park committee that helped come up with the final design, wanted the park to be priced in a modular fashion so that parts could be cut if it came in over budget.
The only problem, as Austin explained at the meeting, is that there weren’t any “big chunks” that could be cut out of the design.
So what’s next? The park could be going back to the drawing board. While it is unfortunate that it may be necessary to do that to accommodate for the amount of money set aside for the project, it may turn out to be a blessing in disguise.
Commissioner Allen Booker, who represents the city of Brunswick on the county commission, suggested taking another look at a design that local businessman Robert Torras provided for the commission. The mock-up featured a smaller memorial and more parking.
The veterans memorial park offers a chance to not only have a dedicated monument to those from our area who selflessly served their country, but also provides downtown Brunswick with something it sorely needs — more parking.
Downtown Brunswick is starting to show signs of getting back on its feet after a prolonged down period. New apartments, new businesses and new restaurants will bring more people downtown. Those people are going to need to park somewhere.
Parking, though, shouldn’t be the only focus of the new park. All involved need to also make sure that the reason behind the park is not forgotten.
Working together with the city and veterans, we believe that there is a solution out there that does both. Starting over again is not easy when it comes to a project like this. If all parties come together to accomplish both these goals and not have to spend more than the $1.5 million raised for the project, hitting the reset button will have been worth it.