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El Cajon considers memorial location

El Cajon City Council heard staff’s report on locations for the proposed sites for its new veteran’s memorial at the Sept. 12 meeting. Parks & Recreation Director Frank Carson said after 29 interactions with the community and stakeholders, including local veteran groups such as AMVETS, VFW, Marine Corps League Detachment, and Navy Fleet Reserve Association at the Veterans Memorial Hall, San Diego East County Chamber’s VECA group, and the American Legion Post 303, and over 200 surveys at community events, the preferred location for the memorial is in front of the Pubic Safety Building at 100 Civic Center Way at the El Cajon Police Department. Council was in consensus that the Public Safety Building was the best opportunity
for the memorial and directed staff to move forward into the design stage at this location.

Three other locations were discussed by Council: Judson Park, Prescott Promenade, and the parking lot at Magnolia and Park avenues.

Carson said it has been discussed that the U.S. Space Force, recognized by the Department of Defense now, be included with the Memorial, and the Merchant Marines, which were called into service during WWII.

The biggest topics of discussion in picking a site were public and memorial safety and infrastructure.

Out of the four sites, the Public Safety Building has electrical foundations in place, several cameras in constant use, and the infrastructure is already in place for a spot for the memorial, with benches, open access to the public for gathering, and ADA compliant.

“In other feedback conversations, recommendations included recognizing POW/MIA, a first responder memorial auxiliary to the side of the memorial, including the El Cajon Veteran of the Year, wanted this to be a public destination for gathering,” said Carson. “The current location is used for ceremonial occasions. They asked for adequate parking. Making sure this was a safe and secure location and recognizing seven branches of service.”

Council member Michelle Metschel asked about visibility at the proposed site and Carson said it would be vertical lighting that could be seen from the freeway like the 9/11 twin tower lighting, but in compliance with local FAA requirements.

“We can request it as proposals for design, take those designs back to the veteran service organizations, and ultimately bring it back to Council after getting those organizations feedback,” said Carson. “There is no budget at this time. Once we decide on a design concept, we will request Council for a budget.”

Council member Phil Ortiz said he went “back and forth” on the location, mostly because he wanted as much public access to the memorial as possible but agreed that the Public Safety Building was adequate for parking, gathering, and would reduce the risk of anyone defacing the memorial.

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