New LB Icon Taking Shape: Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier Blends Natural Beauty With Historical & Emotional Punch
(June 19, 2005) -- Showcasing a project that combines LB's natural beauty with historical eloquence and emotional power, Third District Councilman Frank Colonna provided a preview of the future of the Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier for LB residents and officials on June 18.
Beaming with enthusiasm, Councilman Colonna said, "It's just really, really a thrill and a privilege to have been part of the process of transformation from what we knew as Belmont Pier to Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier."
The project taking shape, doggedly pursued by Councilman Colonna for several years, will include traditional seafront elements (Salt Water Taffy is coming) while packing an emotional punch. Flags of all five armed services will be displayed, crested by an American flag and visible from the pier, the plaza and the beach.
An inscription in the concrete at the pier's entrance will declare, "The people of Long Beach dedicate this pier to the men and women of our nation's armed forces, as a tribute to their love of country and a memorial to their sacrifice."
In a reversal of Hollywood's "Walk of Fame" (restricted to those deemed "stars"), the Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier will feature metal medallions embedded along its length, visible to thousands of pier visitors. They can be purchased ($250) by individuals to honor friends and familymembers who served (details below). Councilman Colonna chipped in and bought this one...and anyone can to honor a servicemember.
Benches inscribed with the dates of significant U.S. military events also line the pier...and they can also be purchased ($2,500) for inscription to servicemembers.
The end result is a new LB icon, a public project being created in part directly by the public, that is unusual, perhaps unique, among CA beachfront piers.
Councilman Colonna fielded requests for comment from media outlets. He told LBReport.com:
"The pier has been such a lost soul for so long and you can just feel the energy and basically we're participating in a rebirth of the pier. With all the elements that we're adding to it...People are always attracted to the sea, and what a great opportunity because...we can commemorate our veterans, people can celebrate their own personal events when they want to come here with their family, we have a lot of service organizations that can take advantage of the pier. It's everybody's pier...it belongs to the whole city."
In remarks to the crowd, Councilman Colonna thanked multiple individuals involved in the pier project, including design artist Susan Narduli, businessmen Fred Khammar and Mike O'Toole ("The heartbeat behind the pier; they're the ones who are going to be running the concessionaire operations.")...
Partners of Parks president Betty Davenport, displaying one of the bricks about to be placed at the Lone Sailor memorial, Ocean Blvd. @ Paloma Ave., in the coming days.
Capt. Jim Ostach, USN Reserve (Act), a member of the Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier Art Project Committee.
Councilman Colonna said of his work with Capt. Ostach and Ms. Davenport, "We started and grew up with each other together on the Lone Sailor memorial...along Ocean Blvd. at Paloma...It was kind of a beginning of a welcome to the veterans for our shoreline."
Among those also spotted in the crowd:
Retired LB Councilman (and U.S Army veteran) Jerry Shultz (one of the founders/creators of the Long Beach Veterans Day Parade), conversing with LB Parks, Recreation and Marine Director, Phil Hester.
Councilman Shultz helped bring the Vietnam Memorial in Houghton Park to fruition, also sponsored by Partners of Park.
4th district Councilman Patrick O'Donnell (who'd just finished corralling kidlets, a handful.)
Members of the Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier Art Project Committee Don Darnauer, CVWO4, USCG (Ret.) and D. ("Gunny") Sutis, GYSGT, USMC (Ret...and Iwo Jima veteran).
Committee member Braden Phillips, Capt. USN (Ret.) [now LBPD management brass].
Partners of Parks Treasurer Bob Lamond.
Of the pier project, Councilman Colonna said:
This has been kind of a work in progress...We didn't have a pocket of money or a bucket of money to draw off of...When Sea Festival comes, we're going to have another little party on the pier, and then when the moorings, which will be on the west end of the pier, we're going to start with ten and hopefully there'll be here by the end of summer, and then it's going to grow to at least forty moorings...
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...I have to tell you what we have here, what we see, is kind of an artist's palette and it's going to be continuing to grow, and the picture is going to be getting even more beautiful. When we have the moorings out there, and when we have the restaurant operations and the kiosks and the Salt Water candy and people walking with baby strollers...there's a connection there that you can't describe...
If you're driving down Ocean Blvd. and you see people stop their car, and you watch in the night, they're standing looking at the Lone Sailor, you can just imagine what they're thinking about in terms of who they may have lost, or a friend that they had.
There's something that's just magnificent about that connection that goes beyond just people like myself holding public office and trying to do some things like this.
Councilman Colonna introduced Mike Kennard, a Sergeant with the L.A. County Sheriff Dept., and is with the U.S. Marine Corps stationed on Terminal Island...and in 2003, Sgt. Kennard served in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom in combat operations attached to the British Special Forces. Sgt. Kennard said:
I know I speak for all the men and women who have served with honor and distinction, and many who have given the ultimate sacrifice for their country, and those who are currently serving in Iraq, Afghanistan and other parts of the world.
I am humbled by this tribute to the armed forces, and I am grateful of all the support of my community, especially during my time in combat. I know firsthand how important it is to have the love and prayers and support of our families, and our community, and I thank you for all of us.
The pier medallions (to be embedded in the pier walkway) and memorial benches (there'll be roughly sixty) are available for purchase through Partners of Parks, a non-profit group that supports public parks, recreation and marine programs and activities in the City of LB. (562) 570-3209.
In addition, the pier will feature a new restaurant, boat moorings, watercraft rental center and an information kiosk. There'll also be a new Aqualink landing linking the pier to shoreline attractions including the Aquarium, Shoreline Village and the Pike at Rainbow Harbor.
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