TOWANDA - Bids were opened Thursday for the first phase of the planned Bradford County Veterans Memorial Park in Towanda.

Four bids, ranging from $62,650 to $117,000, were submitted for the first phase, which will consist of a semi-circular retaining wall on which will be mounted a series of flags.

The flag display will be "an impressive array of flags situated in a sweeping arc facing Main Street, just south of the Veteran Memorial Bridge," according to a press release from the Bradford County Veterans Memorial Park Association.

Below the flags "will be a massive four-panel monument citing the bravery and heroism of our veterans," the press release states.

The low bid was submitted by Middendorf Contracting of Towanda. The next-lowest bid, which was for $68,600, was submitted by R.B. Robinson Contracting of Candor, N.Y.

Jason Clapp, project manager with Ted L. Strosser, Architecture & Conservation of Lewisburg, which has been hired to work on the project, said he had estimated that the first phase would cost between $40,000 to $60,000.

Construction of the first phase will begin "within a couple of weeks," if the borough council agrees to allow the project to go forward at this time, Clapp said. The council will be discussing the park's construction at its meeting on Monday, he said.

Towanda Borough Manager Tom Fairchild Jr. said he and the council will be analyzing the financing of the first and second phases of the project on Monday to make sure the two phases are "affordable and do-able."

The second phase, which would include, among other things, the construction of the park's parking lot along the Robert Farley Connector and the Merrill Parkway and a sidewalk connecting the park to Sen. Roger Madigan Gateway Park, is currently scheduled to go forward next spring, said Joe Doherty, a spokesman for the association.

The second phase of the project was originally going to be the first part of the park's construction to be done, but when that part of the project was put out for bid last summer, the bids came in too high. The "second phase" still needs to be re-bid.

The association and the council decided at the beginning of October to construct the flag display and its retaining wall this fall in order to show progress on the project and help attract more donations for the park's construction.

During the third and fourth phases, more features of the park will be installed, including granite benches, corner markers, granite pavers, individual conflict memorials, the rotunda, and two bronze statues, Doherty said.

The association hopes to construct the various phases "fluently, one after another, complete with proper landscaping and appropriate lighting," according to the association's press release, which it issued this week.

The association is looking for more volunteers to join them in working toward the creation of the park, according to the press release.

"There are only eight members of our association and most have full-time jobs," the release states. "The two or three retired members who do have the time are overtaxed carrying the burden of traversing our county to garner support (for the park). They too have lives to live, bills to pay, homes to maintain and personal matters to attend to."

The association is still selling granite pavers to be installed in the park, which can be used by citizens to honor a loved one who is a veteran.

If you are interested in volunteering for the association, or would like to participate in the granite paver program, call (570) 596-3224.

If you care to make a donation toward the construction of the park, send it to: The Borough of Towanda, Attn: BCVMPA, 724 Main St., Towanda, PA 18848, according to the press release.

Donations for the construction of the park are considered a "charitable donation" for tax purposes, the press release said.

The park will be constructed on a borough-owned parcel bordered by state Route 2027, U.S. Route 6, the Merrill Parkway, and the Robert Farley Connector.

James Loewenstein can be reached at (570) 265-1633; or email: