A proposed monument to Korean War veterans came one step closer to fruition last week when the Los Angeles Cultural Affairs Commission gave its approval to plans that call for a heavily landscaped monument at a new site, some 300 yards from the Korean Friendship Bell at San Pedro’s Angels Gate Park.
“It was great news,” said Jack Stites, who heads the veterans group that is sponsoring the monument. “It was like a monstrous weight off my shoulders. We’re well on our way now.”
Last week’s unanimous commission vote was an important step for the veterans, but it is by no means the last hurdle the group will have to jump.
Before construction can begin, three other public agencies--the Los Angeles Recreation and Parks Commission, the state Coastal Commission and the state Office of Historic Preservation--must also approve the monument. Once those approvals are obtained, the Cultural Affairs Commission and the Recreation and Parks Commission each will review the plans again--this time for final approval before construction begins--in case any changes have been made.
The Cultural Affairs Commission’s preliminary approval last Wednesday came nearly six months after that city board first heard--and rejected--a different plan for the Korean War memorial.
Since then, the veterans group has changed the site of the memorial and its design has been altered significantly. The new plan calls for opening up an unused entrance to the park along Paseo Del Mar.
According to Niki Lupo, the commission’s executive assistant, some of the changes were instituted by a landscape architect who volunteered his services at the request of commissioner Michael Chan.
“The commissioners were just ecstatic about the developments in the site plan,” said Lupo. The new landscaping “just made a world of difference.”
The International Korean War Veterans Memorial--so named because it will honor veterans from 22 countries that participated in the United Nations forces--is proposed for a site near the Osgood- Farley Battery, not far from the Korean Friendship Bell.
The veterans initially wanted to place the monument next to the bell, but the commissioners rejected that plan, saying the monument would interrupt the peaceful atmosphere of the bell. The initial plans called for a central sculpture of 12 soldiers in battle atop a granite base, encircled by the flags of each nation whose veterans were being honored.
According to Stites, the new plans call for a sculpture of 11 male soldiers in battle and a separate sculpture of a female nurse gesturing toward the soldiers. (At a previous hearing, the cultural affairs commissioners had insisted a woman be included in the memorial.)
The central sculpture will sit atop an earthen berm and will be ringed by a horseshoe of low-growing pine trees, Stites said. Two landscaped paths will lead to the monument, one from the parking lot next to the bell and another from a new, 15-space parking lot that the veterans propose to build off an existing road that leads from the Paseo Del Mar entrance to the monument site.
Stites said his group hopes to have all its approvals in time to begin construction this spring.