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Plan to remake OB Veterans Plaza memorial is revitalized with new concept and fundraising

Visitors to Ocean Beach Veterans Plaza pass eroded inscriptions of veterans' names in the walkway.
(Milan Kovacevic)

In the face of continuing deterioration of Ocean Beach’s Veterans Plaza memorial, a new concept and new fundraising are in progress to replace the memorial with an updated design made of more durable materials.

A “Tribute Day” kickoff fundraiser was held June 17 to honor Dave Martin, a local business owner who advocated for renovation of the memorial. Martin, who died in April, was a Marine Corps veteran and former president of the Ocean Beach Town Council.

As many as 18 area restaurants participated in the fundraiser, donating a portion of their sales that day. The fundraiser accumulated about $10,000, with proceeds going toward the memorial project.

The sun is out and so are the people, gathering around Ocean Beach’s Veterans Plaza on a recent weekend to take in summer by the sea.

Nicole Ueno, a board member for the nonprofit Ocean Beach Community Development Corp., said the event was a “great start.”

“Fundraising is ongoing and we are looking at all sources of donations,” Ueno said. “Our project funding goal at this point is $200,000, but with all construction costs not yet in, it’s still a bit of a moving target.”

Members of OBCDC, the Town Council, Ocean Beach Planning Board, Ocean Beach MainStreet Association and Peninsula Alliance are on the committee steering the project.

The current memorial at Veterans Plaza off Abbott Street was first installed in 1997, featuring the names of veterans inscribed on plaques cemented into the walkway. After more than two decades, heavy foot traffic and sea spray have eroded the memorial to such an extent that many of the names are nearly illegible.

Shanika and Jared Brown walk at the veterans memorial at Ocean Beach Veterans Plaza.
Shanika and Jared Brown walk at the veterans memorial at Ocean Beach Veterans Plaza while checking out vendors’ tables recently.
(Milan Kovacevic)

Conceptual designs were drafted for a new memorial as early as 2014. One of the more recent iterations included a granite wall with the names of veterans inscribed on panels. The idea was to have the inscriptions off the ground to minimize erosion from foot traffic. The shape of the wall would imitate the rock formations at Sunset Cliffs, a tribute to the area’s oceanic background.

The design was updated last year, and Martin was integral in putting it together, Ueno said. The updated concept was formulated by OBCDC in conjunction with Schmidt Design Group of Point Loma, which has designed civic parks and plazas for nearly 40 years.

The latest plan is smaller in scale, featuring flagpoles and granite columns instead of a granite wall. Ueno said the concept allows for a lighter, more open space with a more manageable budget goal.

According to the new design, the plaza walking surface will consist of a concrete treatment called Lithocrete, in which small, tumbled beads of glass are set into the surface, giving it color and shimmer. The memorial columns, featuring inscribed names of veterans, are to be made from cut and honed granite, which is expected to be more durable in the coastal environment.

A rendering shows the current design concept for reworking Ocean Beach's Veterans Plaza memorial.
A rendering shows the current design concept for reworking Ocean Beach’s Veterans Plaza memorial with flagpoles, granite columns and a Lithocrete walking surface resembling waves.
(Courtesy of Ocean Beach Community Development Corp.)

Principal designer JT Barr of Schmidt Design Group said the new concept will keep an oceanic theme.

“The plaza hardscape will be treated with a range of blue tones which mimic the sinuous movement of the Pacific Ocean and its waves cresting onto the beach,” Barr said. “The granite columns ... represent the iconic bluffs found at Sunset Cliffs. Three flagpoles are also included in the memorial. The poles are intentionally aligned with the angle of the Ocean Beach Pier as it reaches into the ocean in the distance.”

Ueno told the Point Loma-OB Monthly that the necessary permits are secured but more funding is needed before the project can move forward.

Following the final rounds of engineering and reviews from the city of San Diego, construction is expected to take three to six months. Some details may change as the project is put in place.

Denny Knox, executive director of the Ocean Beach MainStreet Association, the management organization for the OB Business Improvement District, said she would meet with the groups involved to discuss ways to raise money for the memorial.

Donations are being collected through the Peninsula Alliance online at bit.ly/2VIRz2J.


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