Group gets OK for new veterans memorial

Group gets OK for new veterans memorial
Mayor Joe Kellejian addresses the crowd in front of an existing memorial at La Colonia Park during the annual Veterans Day celebration last year. City Council recently gave a community group the green light to raise money to build a new veterans memorial. Photo by Bianca Kaplanek

SOLANA BEACH — City Council granted approval at the Nov. 28 meeting for a community group to move forward with fundraising for a veterans memorial at La Colonia Park, an element included in improvement plans that were delayed indefinitely after the state abolished redevelopment agencies. Details for the memorial, such as the exact location and whether it will include individual names, have yet to be worked out, but it will have a water feature. The estimated cost is $160,000.

According to the staff report, part of the fundraising efforts may involve selling artistic tiles similar to those at Fletcher Cove Park and the adjacent community center.

Former Mayor Teri Renteria has been working with City Council members Lesa Heebner and Mike Nichols to move the project forward. She said there is a lot of interest from all residents.

“It’s very personal to me having grown up in Eden Gardens and having seen so many people from Solana Beach and Eden Gardens go into the Armed Forces,” she said, noting that two of her three brothers served in the Army and her oldest daughter is a lieutenant commander in the Coast Guard.

“Plus, a schoolmate of mine from Eden Gardens was one of the first casualties of Vietnam,” Renteria said. “We still have some surviving veterans from World War II and they are few and frail and not in the best of health.

Mayor Joe Kellejian addresses the crowd in front of an existing memorial at La Colonia Park during the annual Veterans Day celebration last year. City Council recently gave a community group the green light to raise money to build a new veterans memorial. Photo by Bianca Kaplanek

“It would certainly be so great for the city to honor them,” she said. “One of them is losing (his) eyesight and I would really like to have this done before he completely loses his eyesight.

“Solana Beach has always been a patriotic community,” she added. “I really hope that we can honor our veterans in perpetuity with this memorial.”

Helping her with the project is Robert Hernandez, who so far has found six Solana Beach residents who served in World War II who are still living. He has also compiled a list of 126 soldiers from Eden Gardens who served in World War II, Korea or Vietnam.

“I think it would be a great, great, great thing for this to happen,” Hernandez said. “It means a lot to the community. It means a lot to me.”

Solana Beach hosts annual ceremonies on Memorial Day and Veterans Day at La Colonia Park. In 2008, council members approved plans to improve the park and community center. Funding was to come from the city’s redevelopment agency, however, RDAs were abolished by the governor last year to help close the state budget deficit.

Solana Beach currently has no money to fund the project, however, council members all support the memorial.

“If they raise (the money) we’ll get it built,” Tom Campbell said. “I’m completely supportive of it.”

Councilman Dave Roberts said he hopes the memorial will honor all veterans, including those who served in Operation Desert Storm and Desert Shield, as well as those who are currently serving.

“It will be a wonderful start to the entire park,” Heebner said.

“As a veteran I wholeheartedly support this,” Mayor Joe Kellejian said. “I will do everything I can to help with this endeavor.”

 

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