Saving Veterans’ Plaza in Ocean Beach

by on February 22, 2013 · 17 comments

in Environment, History, Military, Ocean Beach, Organizing, Veterans

WHAT: Public forum on how to save Veterans’ Plaza
WHEN: Monday, Feb. 25 at 6:30 p.m.
WHERE: Point Loma Masonic Lodge, 1711 Sunset Cliffs Blvd.
WHO: Anyone interested in restoring the declining park. 

By Tony de Garate

Public urged to get involved at Feb. 25 forum

The tragedies of 9-11 were several years away when Obceans who knew that patriotism was consistent with the community’s laid-back, do-your-own-thing ethic decided it was high-time to do something big.

An idea to honor those who have served our country in the armed forces took hold and, with the help of the since-vacated Ocean Beach VFW, the Ocean Beach Mainstreet Association (OBMA) and others, the idea came to fruition.

In a nutshell, that’s how the Veterans’ Plaza at the corner of Abbott Street and Newport Avenue – with two its flagpoles, 6 ½-foot-high piece of granite rock and adorning plaque, and dozens of inscriptions engraved onto a brand-new, concrete sidewalk – came to be in the mid-1990s, organizers say. Ocean Beach was ahead of the curve.

But almost immediately, problems arose, remembers Denny Knox, executive director of the OBMA.

The new sidewalk was supposed to be stained with bright, vibrant colors, Knox said. “And right away, they washed out. And they were blotchy,” she said. Later, some coloring and improvements on the adjacent asphalt were paved over and forgotten after a road repair, she added.

But the most serious problems had to do with the memorials on the sidewalk. Circles of various sizes had been engraved on the new concrete, and members of the public could have an inscription etched inside the circles for a few hundred dollars.

But sandblasting the concrete proved to be tricky business, and over time, the concrete lost its ability to sustain the stress of engraving process, Knox said. When the first mistake occurred, an effort to correct it pretty much wiped out what funds had been set aside for maintenance.

 “We tried so hard to tackle it, but it really was a bad design,” Knox said.

 Salt air, sand and foot traffic also took their toll, eroding the engravings and rendering many of them difficult, if not impossible, to read. The majority of the circles remain empty, and no one’s purchased an inscription since August of 2008, Knox said.

Over the years, contractors have assessed the damage, but all have come to the same conclusion: start over.

“They all left scratching their heads. They all said it needed a complete re-do,” Knox said.

 A coalition of community groups, headed by the Ocean Beach Community Development Corporation (OBCDC), have united to do just that. The first of two public forums to discuss design features and generate ideas has been scheduled for Feb. 25 at 6:30 p.m. at the Point Loma Masonic Lodge, 1711 Sunset Cliffs Blvd.

The effort got a big boost recently with a $20,000 grant from the county’s Neighborhood Reinvestment Program through an application supported by County Supervisor Ron Roberts. The money should pay for the design phase, and the architectural firm KTU+A has been retained for that purpose, said Tom Perotti, OBCDC president. KTU+A has worked on the OBCDC’s other big project, the Ocean Beach Entryway at Sunset Cliffs Boulevard and West Point Loma Boulevard.

All the major community groups have voice strong support in the effort, and even Mayor Bob Filner has expressed interest, Perotti said.

 “The current plaza is in such disrepair, it doesn’t really honor the names of the veterans that are on the sidewalk,” Perotti said. “It’s past due – it’s time to show respect to the veterans and to define the space once again in a renewed effort.”

 All ideas will be considered at the forum, but no one expects the memorials to remain on the sidewalk.

“That was the original problem – it wore down like sandpaper,” Perotti said.

 Several years ago, as the engravings were becoming less legible, the OBMA took photos of the memorials and wrote down all the inscriptions. “We think we have all of that documented,” Knox said.

A five-member committee has been appointed to lead the effort, headed by Steve Grosch, who also serves on the board of the Ocean Beach Town Council.

 “The intent is to create a respectful and lasting memorial while keeping in mind this corner is a signature for Ocean Beach,” Grosch said.


{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

unwasHedwalmarTthonG February 22, 2013 at 11:28 am

Memorial to what again? Shall it be a memorial to all the good things war brings to the planet; or shall it be a memorial to all the bad things war brings to the planet?
Shall it be a memorial to Iraq, Bush, Obama, Afghanistan, Agent Orange, the Masons, Hiroshima, Truman, Nagasaki, Gettysburg, Dresden, London, Paris, Blackwater, Eric Prince, Mosul . . . Yikes! There isn’t enough time in the day to list all the wonderful things, people & places war has brought to this planet. Oh shit, I think I left my patriotism in the car; wait, I’ll go get it.
Yes, thanks for waiting. I suggest a 29′ 6″ stainless steel obelisk. Inscribed upon each side w/ be listed all the positive aspects of war, all the economic benefits for a few, a chance for a population to rebuild after destruction, a change of regime, all the people who have been tried & convicted of war crimes. Gosh, the list could go on & on. I’m surprised that OB hasn’t started its own little war against aggressive communities like Pt. Loma or Pacific Beach. Just think of the influx of dollars to OB if OB won a war against PB & destroyed all of its businesses, homes, beachs! Everyone would have to visit OB.
Here’s a plan: First, identify the leader or dictator of PB & demonize him (usually it’s a him); roust the OB population & exaggerate the threat to the community. Get a public relations firm to fill in the details w/ the media, and you too can reap the benefits of your own little backyard conflict!
I can’t wait to watch it all on TV.

Or put nothing on the obelisk because there are zero positive benefits of conflict.


OB Mercy February 23, 2013 at 7:59 pm

Hey, have you ever lost a kid in war unwashedwalmarthong?? I bet it’s devastating. I have heard first hand, the terror that our soldiers have to face out there. Watching their buddy’s heads getting blown off right in front of them. Returning with less limbs than they left with. Not to mention the PTSD they have to deal with that the VA pretty much chooses to ignore.

Do these soldiers deserve a memorial? Your damn straight they do.

And oh yeah, my son is also a veteran. He faced some of the most hairiest situations over there. At least he came back alive and in one piece.

Not once in your rant did you mention the soldiers. Only the war machine. Hate the war, not the players.


unwasHedwalmarTthonG February 23, 2013 at 9:10 pm

Don’t go. I would never in the boundless number of lifetimes raise a child to enter the armed forces. I won’t be losing a child in conflict. Unfortunately, the players support the machine. Don’t join the machine. Don’t volunteer as a digit in the military because someone said it’s a good career. The soldiers who join the machine are part of the machine. I don’t have to separate the individual aspects of the military to make a general point. There is little honor (depending on the definition of the word) in donning a uniform & having society label you an instant “hero.” The war machine pervades society deeply. No time here to list the influences the military exerts on our culture. You may do the research yourself on that subject, though.
Not a rant. Most people have not thought through the ramifications of joining any military branch. Life is tough enough as a parent having to worry about a child in day-to-day urban environment. I simply can not imagine raising a child, then having to worry every single stinkin’ day about why the hell that child joined the military & worrying every single stinkin day about his or her safety.
In the next response, go ahead & give me that spiel about patriotism; simply luv that one. Ta ta corporate citizens, ta ta.


Goatskull February 24, 2013 at 10:39 am

Just because you don’t raise your kids to join is no guarantee they won’t, even if you steer them towards avoiding it at all costs. In my military career I’ve met many kids who joined just to piss their parents off. It happens. Another way to look it it is this. I assume you live in San Diego and more specifically OB. Assuming that’s the case then you KNOW at least a few people who are either in of have been. It’s just not possible not to.

Sometimes (and I mean sometimes, not always or even most of the time) we need to forgive the unforgivable.


OB Mercy February 24, 2013 at 11:58 am

You obviously do NOT have children, unwashed….

I was a Vietnam war protester, to the extreme. May even be on some FBI lists for my activities.

Patriotism? Some of us have our own definition of patriotism. Protesting the war was MY form of patriotism. I LOVE my country. So please. do NOT preach that to me.

So, you think I RAISED a kid to WANT to be in military?? Really? How ignorant of you and I find it offensive that you think that. I literally showed him how peace from talking can win arguments, not war machines and killing.

And what happened? All on his own, like MOST little boys, he played war with his buddies on the block. I wouldn’t allow him to have toy guns, but guess what? He turned everything (including a bar of soap!) into a gun. At the age of 13, he begged me to go into the Devil Pups, a boot camp at Camp Pendalton for teens. I said no way any son of mine is going to “play” at war if I have anything to say about it.

As he got older, the became an EXPERT on war, reading everything he could get his hands on. Especially, the Vietnam War. He even spent his savings at 14 yrs old on going to Army Surplus stores buying stuff he could wear from the Vietnam era. Irony? Yes, I think so. Out of my control, totally.

At 19 yrs old, he joined the Coast Guard, and quickly worked his way up to being a sharpshooter (even though I never bought him a gun) and was on an elite SWAT squad that did busts of Drug Cartels all over the world. A very dangerous job and I hated it.

He came home, became a federal firefighter and helicopter pilot here in San Diego and is also an officer in the Army National Guard, so he can collect two retirements when it’s time.

Am I proud of him? You betcha. Why am I telling you all this? I felt if was necessary to show you that you are a bit ignorant of certain things. I’m also a peace activist. But you can NOT control what your children choose to do. I could go on, but I think I’ve made my point.


unwasHedwalmarTthonG February 25, 2013 at 12:34 pm

I have children.


OB Mercy February 25, 2013 at 12:47 pm

Don’t know how old they are, but either way, you should know you can teach them all you want about the world, but they are still going to make their own decisions in the end.


Mike March 5, 2013 at 3:32 pm

I concur unwashed. If you sign up to be a killer then by golly expect to be killed. Only a fool, or a child, believes he’s fighting for our freedom around the globe.


Goatskull March 11, 2013 at 2:15 pm

Go say that to the face of someone who’s been out there. They’re not hard to find in OB. Better yet, go up to a Harley riding vet at Cheswick’s who’s had a few bourbon shots and see what happens. The results could be quite funny.


OB Mercy March 11, 2013 at 2:22 pm

HA! Right on Goatskull!


Goatskull March 11, 2013 at 3:42 pm



Goatskull March 11, 2013 at 2:18 pm

And if you do hopefully we will read about it here.


Goatskull March 11, 2013 at 2:19 pm

And hopefully we’ll read about it here.


John March 5, 2013 at 7:25 pm

“Or put nothing on the obelisk because there are zero positive benefits of conflict.”

You’ve got it all figured out don’t you? Meanwhile virtually every generation of humans in history has had a war or several happen in their lifetime and just because you think they are never worth fighting well by golly they are going to happen anyway.
While there is always some place for folks like you to assert unrealistic visions of the world as you’d like it to be, there are many in the world as it exists who feel it appropriate to pay respect to those who humbly prepared for the inevitable, and when that time came they did the best they could.
Something that seems to be lost upon the harsher critics of US policy since and including WW2, as they raise their voices in contempt and anger at the audacity of America’s aggression:
Every single one of the enemies we opposed, operated in a system which would have brutally silenced your dissent. Think about that.


bodysurferbob February 22, 2013 at 11:43 am

it’s a memorial to the veterans, not a war memorial. soldiers and sailors die when they’re following orders of the generals and admirals – the grunts don’t choose which wars to fight. yes , vietnam was not a good war to celebrate; yes, iraq is not a good war to celebrate, and yes neither is afghanistan. but can’t we memorialize the lives that were lost and ruined due to the wars that our presidents choose, the wars that our corporate media builds up, and the wars that our fellow americans get bamboozled to support.


Goatskull February 24, 2013 at 10:40 am

Yes we can. Screw those who think otherwise.


nancy witt February 22, 2013 at 8:40 pm

Well said, bodysurferbob; thanks.


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