A computer rendering of the proposed new fountain at Veterans Memorial Circle shows that the central feature with a more impressive fountain will be raised above a lower pool and surrounded by plantings and monuments representing each branch of the Armed Forces. (Village of Brookfield)

The village of Brookfield’s plan to replace the fountain at Veterans Memorial Circle, shelved last year because money from a promised state grant still hadn’t materialized, is back on the radar.

At its committee of the whole meeting on April 26, village trustees gave the go-ahead to Hitchcock Design Group to resume its efforts, use funds from the Eight Corners TIF District to pay up front costs and reimburse the TIF fund when the $250,000 state grant arrives.

Village trustees are expected to approve an agreement with Hitchcock Design Group at an upcoming board meeting to prepare plans and bid documents. Once that happens, said Village Manager Timothy Wiberg, the plan is to complete the fountain improvements this year.

“This is such a focal point of our town, it’s such a unique part of our town,” said Village President Kit Ketchmark, presiding over the final committee of the whole meeting of his tenure before slipping back into the role of village trustee next week. 

“This is very key to the Broadway [Avenue] business district,” Ketchmark added. “Plus, this is a veterans’ memorial, and the condition of it over the last years has deteriorated somewhat where I don’t think it’s serving our veterans quite as well as it could or should.”

Back in May 2019, trustees expressed an interest in improving the fountain but making it something enjoyed a distance. Set in the middle of the Eight Corners roundabout, it’s dangerous for pedestrians to get to and it is not wheelchair accessible.

At that time, Hitchcock Design Group estimated that to enlarge the fountain, raising the center section and installing a nozzle that could create a 10-foot high spray and LED lights to illuminate the fountain at night would cost about $250,000.

Now, Hitchcock Design Group estimates that the cost to improve the fountain would be more in the vicinity of $465,000. 

Tim King, a principal at Hitchcock Design Group, told trustees on April 26 that $100,000 of that would go toward the construction of a sewer junction chamber beneath the new fountain, made necessary because there is a manhole in the center of the circle.

In order for the new fountain to be located in the center of the circle – the existing one is not – the chamber needs to be built to provide access to the sewer.

The cost for the fountain itself is also about $22,000 higher than the 2019 estimate, while the cost for landscaping the circle is also about $20,000 higher. Another cost not included in the 2019 estimate is about $60,000 for six proposed stone monuments fitted with plaques representing each of the branches of the Armed Forces.

Closer to the roadway around the circle, lower to the ground will be bollards that will serve as barriers to vehicles. One of the reasons the fountain is in its current condition is that vehicles, often driven by impaired motorists, have crashed into the circle.

In 2006, a vehicle crashed into the fountain, destroying it. There have been other crashes since then, the most recent in 2018, when a car struck the fountain’s retaining wall, scattering bricks and concrete across the circle and into the street.

Trustee Nicole Gilhooley, in her last meeting before leaving the board after serving two terms, said it was key that the village budget annually to maintain what will be a much more elaborately landscaped circle.

Trustee Michael Garvey, who will assume the village president’s chair next week, pledged to do that.

“It’s going to look great the first year it’s up, but we have to build this so it looks great permanently,” Garvey said. “This is a big price tag, but we want to do it right. … We have to plan in and budget the annual maintenance and upkeep of this to make sure going forward it’s the right way.”

The existing war memorial monuments that ring the fountain will be relocated to Veterans Park, a few blocks south of the circle at Grand Boulevard and Sunnyside Avenue.

In addition to the improvements at the circle itself, the village wants to improve seating areas that ring the outer edge of the roundabout, adding benches and signage describing the circle’s history as a veterans’ memorial.