A nonprofit foundation has been unanimously authorized to develop and submit to the Los Gatos Town Council between two and four proposals for the location and design of a Veterans Memorial at the Civic Center on East Main Street.
Los Gatos Mayor Steve Rice and his four colleagues on the Council voted on Nov. 5 to consider incorporating the Pageant Grounds Civic Center deck and the front lawn of the Civic Center as possible locations.
"I don't want to limit it [location of the memorial] to any particularly place," Rice said in making a motion to support the newly formed Veterans Memorial and Support Foundation's plan to build a place to remember those who have served, are serving or will serve our country in the six branches of the military.
The foundation, formed April 15 and incorporated Oct. 4, consists of Los Gatos veterans, service club members and local residents, with community outreach coordinator Jackie Rose serving as town liaison. Some members of the foundation's board include a Vietnam War veteran and chairman of Operation Yellow Ribbon, which supports the local troops and their families.
The group will be hosting several community meetings to solicit local artists and architects interested in creating design ideas for the memorial, according to a staff report.
The foundation was requesting the allocation of $20,000 in potential Pageant Grounds public art funding to incorporate public art as part of the memorial, however, the Council declined to commit to giving them that funding at this time and indicated other sources of funding could be available for the project.
Once the memorial is completed, the foundation will continue its efforts by organizing ways to provide humanitarian support to veterans and their families in perpetuity, according to the report.
Twelve out of 15 cities within Santa Clara County have tributes to veterans, according to the foundation, which would like the memorial to include reflection areas, green landscapes, arbors and sitting areas, flags, a listing of service personnel killed in the line of duty, memorial bricks, and a pathway to enjoy its tranquil beauty.
Town Manager Greg Larson said six months ago the mayor and his office received requests from multiple service clubs to establish the memorial and they met with an ad-hoc committee that later established itself as the foundation.
Speaking on behalf of the foundation was Los Gatos resident Ellen Manzo. Her comments were preceded by a four-minute video on the tribute the group hopes to build.
Town staff believes multiple opportunities exist to meet the foundation's desired outcomes, including the renovated Pageant Grounds, the upper portion of the Civic Center deck, a potential bridge connecting the Pageant Grounds to the upper portion of the deck, and several areas on or near the front lawn, including where the flagpoles are currently located, the report added.
Staff has identified that any use of the Civic Center deck should not further the hardness and design challenges of the deck nor diminish the municipal, police, library and future cultural center uses of the center.
The public art funding requested by the foundation is still tentative at this point in time and has also been requested by the Arts and Culture Commission for potential public art in front of the new library, Larson said.
Staff will present to Council at its upcoming study session on capital project priorities and funding in January the potential source and use of funds for public art.
Council members expressed concern that the use of the front Civic Center area, where Music in the Park concerts, Fourth of July festivities and the Fiesta de Artes are held every year, could be problematic for a place that should evoke respect and contemplation.
"It would be good to take a breath and be thoughtful about this for a little bit and say how much do we value having that quiet place of reflection ... versus having a location that's highly visible," said Councilwoman Diane McNutt.
The group is now issuing a call for artists and architects to help design the memorial and is planning a meeting 3-5 p.m. Dec. 10 at Council chambers, 110 E. Main St.
Councilman Joe Pirzynski commended the group for its efforts, but cautioned against fast-tracking a project so important to the town. "I would certainly love to see this completed in the very near future," he said, adding that his favorite location would be the center's deck where the dry water fountain is located.