Community steps forward to secure funding for Solana Beach Veterans Memorial

By Claire Harlin

The Solana Beach City Council on Nov. 28 unanimously supported the concept of installing a veterans memorial and water feature at La Colonia Park, giving the go-ahead for a community group to start raising money for the installation.

The idea for the installation came about in 2006 when the council expressed interest in revitalizing the Eden Gardens park, where Memorial and Veterans Day celebrations are held. Although the city has not had funding for the project, the Veterans Memorial is part of a La Colonia Park Master Plan that was approved by the council in 2008. The project was originally slated to be built with redevelopment money, but that source dried up when redevelopment agencies were disbanded by the state last year, City Manager David Ott said.

“I am very supportive [of the memorial],” said Councilwoman Lesa Heebner. “It’s a wonderful start to the entire park. Eventually we will get it done; I know we will.”

After being approached by community members to examine the feasibility of independent fundraising to get the ball rolling on the project, Solana Beach city staff determined that the memorial can be constructed independently from the rest of the project without significant impacts to the rest of the park’s Master Plan. Part of the fundraising efforts may include selling artistic tiles around the memorial, similar to what occurred at the Fletcher Cove Community Center.

Staff estimated that the project in its entirety will cost about $160,000. That includes $17,000 for construction design, $32,550 for a bench with inset tiles, $24,500 for the water feature and $9,450 for a concrete walkway, among other various costs. The city will be responsible for the bid process and securing a contractor.

Teri Renteria, a Solana Beach resident, expressed her support for the memorial. She said that having grown up in Eden Gardens and having seen so many people from the area go into the armed forces, she sees it as the perfect location for the installation.

“A schoolmate of mine was one of the first casualties of Vietnam,” she said, adding that there are surviving veterans from World War II living locally. “They are few and frail … One is losing his eyesight and I’d like to have this done so he can see it before he loses his eyesight.”

Local historian and longtime resident Chuckles Hernandez also expressed his support for the project, and said he will be helping Renteria in fundraising for the memorial.

Councilman Dave Roberts also “strongly conceptually supports the memorial,” he said, and he hope that veterans from all wars, including Iraq, Afghanistan and Desert Storm, who have served from Solana Beach will be honored.