Planners tackle concerns, nuances of Veterans’ Plaza rock-wall design
Published - 08/28/14 - 04:10 PM | 3161 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Supporters of a new Veterans’ Plaza in Ocean Beach say the project is generating excitement and useful feedback as it’s being pitched to various government entities for approval and private groups for fundraising.

Plans call for the $750,000 plaza to be built on the grassy area south of the main lifeguard tower on Abbott Street. The design, dubbed “Life’s Journey,” would consist of a seven-feet-high representation of Sunset Cliffs with four 15-feet-wide granite walls attached that contain the names of honored veterans. An adjacent walkway with a tide pattern and inlay of stars representing those lost in battle would run from Abbott Street to the sand.

The latest bit of good advice came earlier this month during a hearing of the Design Review Committee of the city’s Park and Recreation Board, said Steve Grosch of the Ocean Beach Community Development Corporation (OBCDC), the group spearheading the project. That committee, while unanimously supporting the project, advised now is the time to be on the lookout for things that could go wrong with the depiction of Sunset Cliffs, Grosch said.

He said the committee was rich in architectural knowledge and convinced him of the need for a skilled design of the memorial rock wall.

“That rock wall can either look fantastic or terrible,” Grosch said Aug. 14 at the monthly meeting of the OBCDC.

An important design question remains: should the memorial wall scale the cliffs in their entire height profile, or should only a portion of the cliffs be considered, Grosch said. Also, how should the cliffs be designed to keep people from climbing on top and jumping off?

“There’s an issue of liability,” said Chet Barfield, aide to District 2 San Diego City Councilman Ed Harris.

Grosch said the Design Review Committee recommended getting the contractor to produce a model of the rock wall “before any decisions are made on site.”

Construction documents for the proj-ect are currently being prepared by Estrada Land Planning. Grosch said the firm, which also worked on the Ocean Beach Skate Park, is confident in the concrete-work contractor, which has done similar projects at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.

OBCDC president Tom Perrotti said he expected citizens to show the plaza the respect it deserved.

“It’s not a Jungle Gym. It’s a place where people will show reverence and respect,” Perrotti said.

Fundraising is continuing at an encouraging pace, Grosch said. The largest chunk — a check for $22,500 in the form of a city grant — was hand-delivered at the meeting by Barfield. Last month, lifeguards representing Ocean Beach and Point Loma earned another $2,500 grant at the 61st annual Ron Trenton Memorial Lifeguard Relays. A recent presentation before the Point Loma Yacht Club has resulted in more donations and fundraising leads, Grosh said.

The project is designed to replace the worn-out sidewalk medallions at the current Veterans’ Plaza at the foot of Newport Avenue.

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• Thank the Urban Corps of San Diego County for the beautiful yellow blooms of the Golden Medallion trees on Abbott Street. The decision to hire the corps to do the watering saved the trees during the current period of drought, Perrotti said. Of the 20 trees planted last year, 19 are thriving. The other one was deliberately cut down in an apparent act of vandalism, he said.

• The completion of the mini-park at the corner of Sunset Cliffs and West Point Loma boulevards has been pushed back a few weeks, Barfield said. The city wants to add a permanent underground watering system during the construction of a meandering, paved trail to Robb Field, now under way. It’s the second phase of the North Ocean Beach Gateway project, also called the Entryway Project, which began in 1997. The trail is expected to be completed this year. The first phase, a plaza at the intersection’s northwest corner, was completed two years ago.
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