By Ted AYALA
At the Glendale City Council meeting of Dec. 7, the City passed a measure giving ultimate control of Montrose’s Vietnam War Memorial (located on the northwest corner of Honolulu Avenue and Oceanview Boulevard) to the governing board of the local business improvement district (BID) – in this case, the Montrose Shopping Park Association (MSPA).
Since its installation in 1968, the Montrose Vietnam War Memorial – the very first memorial in the state of California dedicated exclusively to soldiers that fought in the Vietnam War, according to the local chapter of the Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA 446) – was controlled jointly by the MSPA and the Montrose/Verdugo City Chamber of Commerce (MVCC). The arrangement had worked smoothly for over 40 years. However, the recent discovery of local veterans who had died in combat which were not included in the memorial triggered a dispute between the organizations as to which held ultimate control in rededicating the memorial.
At the Dec. 8 city council meeting, Glendale City Manager James Starbird urged the city council to give only one organization responsibility over the memorial. “It’s important to choose one group to be responsible. Frankly, my view is that the MSPA be generally responsible for the memorial. As staff we need to have one point of contact.” The city council agreed with Starbird and approved the measure to give the MSPA full control unanimously.
Councilman John Drayman was quick to point out that this change in responsibility will have no effect on the day-to-day upkeep of the memorial.
“The change is [only] ministerial,” he explained.
Citing Starbird’s appeal to give the MSPA control of the monument for the sake of efficiency, he also said that the change in control will “[mean] having one organization to deal with public right-of-way issues, such as maintenance, sidewalk power washing, repairs, permit application review … as well as having one entity for [Bill] Dodson, the memorial’s caretaker, to work with rather than two entities plus the city to answer to.”
MSPA executive director Dale Dawson also agreed that there won’t be any visible changes to the running of the memorial.
“If anything, this [will] facilitate improvements,” said Dawson. “There was a clear lack of focus as to which was the agency of record.” He also noted that since the MSPA is a contracted agency to the city of Glendale, it only made sense for them to shepherd the monument as this would be more convenient for the city.
Inquiries to the MVCC regarding this matter were not answered.