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Solana Beach City Council approves $80,000 for construction of Veterans Honor Courtyard at La Colonia Park

By Kristina Houck

Solana Beach is one step closer to having a special place to honor service members.

In a unanimous vote, the Solana Beach City Council May 14 approved $80,000 for the construction of the Veterans Honor Courtyard at La Colonia Park. Currently in the city’s Public Improvement Grant fund, the funds come from the former Solana Beach Redevelopment Agency and were originally designated for the park.

“I thank you for the years of continuous support of veterans, by the council, the mayor and the community,” said Randy Treadway, commander of Solana Beach Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5431.

Plans for the courtyard are complete, but funds are needed before construction can begin.

The project is estimated to cost between $160,000 and $200,000, said City Manager David Ott. As of the May 14 council meeting, $19,200 in private donations has been raised. The volunteer-led Veterans Memorial Committee heading the project has since held a fundraiser May 19 at the Belly Up Tavern (see photos of the event in this issue).

A $4 million improvement plan for La Colonia Park and Community Center included recognition for veterans, but the project was put on hold indefinitely due to lack of funding. Funds were to come from the city’s redevelopment agency, but Gov. Jerry Brown abolished redevelopment agencies in 2011.

In 2012, the council approved plans for what was originally slated to be a veterans’ memorial, after a community group asked if the project could move forward separately from the La Colonia renovation.

Currently, a flagpole and a 2-foot boulder serve as a memorial at La Colonia Park, where the city and VFW Post 5431 host annual Veterans Day and Memorial Day ceremonies. Pictures of veterans are also posted on a wall inside the community center.

The planned courtyard will feature a stone veneer wall with military seals behind a reflecting pool. It will honor all U.S. veterans living and deceased, as well as those who are currently serving at home and abroad.

To raise funds for the project, the community group is selling 12-by-12 inch tiles that will be placed in the courtyard. Tiles will feature the name, rank, branch of service, war and years of service of any veteran, and cost $300 each.

Prior to approving the funds, council members expressed concerns about news that tiles were being sold to donors who also wanted to include their individual or family names.

“I don’t think it’s a good thing, honestly,” said Councilman Mike Nichols. “I think it’s about honoring the men and women who served — some who died for our country. It’s not about who wrote the check to get the name up there. That’s my opinion.”

Nichols serves on the La Colonia Community Center Ad-Hoc Committee, along with Deputy Mayor Lesa Heebner, who shared his opinion.

“I was one of the lucky ones to come home unscathed,” said Solana Beach resident and Vietnam veteran Allen Moffson. “But what if I had died? What if one of you has a brother or sister or father that had died in a war?

“We don’t want to commercialize this. We don’t want companies up there. But I see no reason that a family that wants to donate, or an individual, shouldn’t be able to do so.”

Moffson, who sits on the Veterans Memorial Committee, said fewer than 10 donors have asked to include their names on the tiles.

“Family members have a lot of responsibility when wounded warriors, disabled veterans, paralyzed veterans, amputees, come home from war. It takes a lot of caregiving and responsibility and patience to take care of these veterans when they come home,” said Randy Treadway, commander of VFW Post 5431. He also sits on the committee. “So I think the families need to be recognized.”

After hearing public comments, council members agreed to let the ad-hoc committee explore the issue further, but noted business names would not be allowed on the tiles.

“I know that family members, just like friends and support groups and everybody else that supports our veterans when they come back from war or non-war situations — it’s critical,” Nichols said. “I just don’t want it to turn into this hodgepodge of names everywhere, when we’re really trying to honor those who served our country, some of which who died for our country, some of which who are still serving our country.”

For more information about the project, and to donate or purchase a tile, visit

vetshonor.org

.


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