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New memorial location proposed

At the Jan. 11 El Cajon City Council meeting, Director of Parks & Recreation Frank Carson submitted a proposal to the city council to move its Veterans Memorial that currently stands in front of The Magnolia theater.

Carson said  the current location no longer is an appropriate place to pay tribute to the men and women of El Cajon who have served in the Armed Forces. Council directed staff to return with possible locations at its Sept. 9, 2021, meeting.

The memorial was erected Nov. 11, 2000.

Two possible future locations were discussed, the south side of the Prescott Promenade which would allow park users, concert-goers, and event attendees to enjoy the memorial.

The second location is the entrance of the Public Safety Building at 100 Civic Center Way.

Carson said the memorial was a work in conjunction with the American Legion Post 303 that placed the obelisk in with the flagpole, then later a larger flagpole was installed in 2016 that included the MIA/POW flag, spurred by a community member of Post 303, Eddie Murphy, who served on the U.S.S. Indianapolis and was a POW of North Korea for a significant period.

Carson said placing the memorial at the south end of the promenade would give it a natural abutment, keep it further away from the traffic of events, and could make it a destination location apart from events. He said at the Public Safety Building could be a natural place to move the obelisk and potentially working with a new artist to expand the memorial.

“The benefit to this location is that there are already three flags set up,” he said. “And it is right next to the Public Safety Building, so there is a social deviant deterrent for someone doing something nefarious to the memorial.”

Carson said staff was seeking direction on locations, a possible Request for Quotation for assistance in design, and authorization for consultation with the community and local veteran associations.

Mayor Bill Wells said he liked both sites but was concerned about the promenade location being removed from the City Hall area and would have less protection from vandalism and the gathering of populations that might make it more inaccessible.

Carson said that location would need additional measures to the design itself to help protect it and make it accessible to ensure some prevention was in place such as surveillance and monitoring nearby. He said the Public Safety Building naturally lends to being a more secure location for the memorial, but that only time would tell for sure.

Council member Phil Ortiz said he walked both sites and has the same concerns.

“One of those reasons for wanting to move or create a new veterans memorial was because the current location in front of The Magnolia does not give it the respect and reverence that it was due,” he said. “My concern is if we have that memorial in the promenade, where we have party and events, the possibility of graffiti and nefarious purposes, we are not accomplishing that goal. I think the location at the Public Safety Building is a good one.”

There was consensus with Council to move forward with this project looking at the Public Safety Building as the new home for the memorial.

New memorial location proposed

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Source: East County Californian

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