By Ted AYALA
The first steps were taken on Tuesday night towards building a facility that Glendale City Councilmember Dave Weaver referred to as a “Museum of Tolerance for Glendale.” City council voted unanimously to move forward with an exclusive negotiating agreement with the Armenian Genocide Centennial Committee (AGCC) to lease a property that sits across from Glendale Community College and south of the Glendale Civic Auditorium.
Currently the 1.7-acre site serves as a parking lot. But members of the AGCC and their supporters envision that the site will eventually house a facility that would serve as both a monument to the Armenian Genocide as well as an Armenian-American cultural center.
The monument to the genocide would sit on a 3,000 sq. ft. section of the property that has been set aside expressly for that purpose. Plans are for an interim memorial to be built first, which would later be absorbed into the rest of the facility.
Supporters originally conceived the facility to be built in downtown Glendale. But it was the expansion of the planned facility into a cultural center that prompted the change of location.
Mayor Zareh Sinanyan praised the AGCC and its supporters and said that the facility would become an important one in the region.
“[This venue will be a place] for Armenian-Americans to display their rich heritage,” he said. “This is going to add a lot to the city, to its cultural and moral aspects.”
Councilmember Weaver said that he “fully supports” the proposal for a cultural center, adding that a monument commemorating the genocide would provide “lessons to learn from the past [and] to educate our youth, our leaders of tomorrow.”
City Manager Scott Ochoa took pains to ensure that while the exclusive negotiating agreement is moving forward, construction is still a long way off.
“All we’re doing is framing the discussion, not having the discussion itself,” he said.
If the facility never gets built, the property would remain a parking lot. If construction does go through, the area beneath it would be converted to parking space.
Representatives from the AGCC explained that while commemorating the Armenian Genocide would play an important part in the facility’s role, it would only be one among many others. A museum paying tribute to the contributions of Armenian-Americans would also be housed there, as well as rotating exhibits showcasing the work of various local artists.
“Having it in the realm of the college is an excellent idea,” said Councilmember Ara J. Najarian. “That’s where they would be getting the synergy for discussion. I’m fully confident that we can make this a reality.”