A rendering of the Veterans Plaza at Bates College. Bates College

LEWISTON — Two years after announcing it would create something to honor veterans on its campus, Bates College plans soon to start construction of a new Veterans Plaza that aims to be both inviting and somewhat seclusive.

It will be the first significant effort to honor veterans on the Bates campus.

The site, on a grassy triangle northwest of Garcelon Field, will have benches, a marker at the entrance “inviting reflection on the impact of war on the lives of everyone it touches” and, in its center, “a grouping of basalt rocks” with their tops polished smooth, the college said in a news release.

The centerpiece art will carry the text, “This space honors the service and sacrifice of Bates veterans.”

It’s unclear how much the project will cost, but it’s apparently far enough along and cheap enough to avoid the spending freeze imposed by college administrators to try to cope with the fiscal hit caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

College President Clayton Spencer said two years ago that Bates planned “to create a public space on campus to recognize the service and sacrifice of members of the Bates community who are military veterans and to invite reflection on the broader implications of war.”

She said at the time that the move “comes in response to the longstanding interest of many in our community in establishing a physical installation on campus to honor veterans.”

Spencer said she hoped it would be finished by late 2019, but it took a little longer than expected to work out the plans.

A rendering of the Bates Veterans Plaza prepared by Michael Boucher Landscape Architecture, the Freeport firm that designed the site. Bates College submission

The design is by Michael Boucher Landscape Architecture of Freeport, which designed the Ladd Library Plaza and the patio for the Bobcat Den at Bates. Carrier Landscape of Lewiston is the contractor for the project, slated to begin in mid-June.

The site is little-used, bounded by paths to nearby dorms and North Bardwell Street.

Shelby Burgau, the facility services project manager in charge of the project, said the space would be surrounded by trees and lit at night year-round, according to Bates.

The plaza itself, which will be paved, will take about a thousand square feet.

The committee charged with examining the project request urged the college “create an installation on campus that recognizes the contributions and sacrifice of veterans and invites reflection on the broader context of war and its impact on the lives and experiences of everyone affected by war.”

It called for the site to honor military service “as a form of public service” rather than something that could be seen as “honoring militarism or nationalism.

“It should be thoughtfully located and designed as a place for reflection,” the committee decided, and reflect the contributions and sacrifices of all Bates veterans rather than focusing attention on individuals.

“The installation should be designed to inspire contemplation and welcome the varied interpretations that individuals may bring to the subject of war and military service,” it said.

According to the college, the site of the new plaza is close to both flagpoles and parking. It is also not far from the Benjamin Mays Center, where annual luncheons for veterans are held.

Bates also pointed out that the location is near the former “Sampsonville,” housing created for World War II veterans attending Bates.

The college said a dedication ceremony will be held “when the project is complete and circumstances are once again suitable for public gatherings.”


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