MINUTES OF THE
FORT ORD VETERAN’S
CEMETERY CITIZENS ADVISORY COMMITTEE
Marina Library Community Meeting Room
190 Seaside Circle, Marina
Thursday April 10, 2008
1:00 – 3:00 PM
1. Chair James Bogan called the meeting to order at 1:00 pm. A roll call of members was conducted.
Present – Ralph Villar (District 1), Frank Aguillon (District 2), Leonard Ortiz (District 3), James Bogan (District 4), Ralph “Norm” Channell (District 5), Abel Quinones (United Veterans Council), Jack Stewart (United Veterans Council).
Ex officio – Steve Jorgensen (California Department of Veterans Affairs), Eddie Pedrozo (Monterey County Military & Veterans Affairs Advisory Commission), Janet Parks (Central Coast Veterans Cemetery Foundation), Tom Mancini (Ft. Ord Reuse Authority), Bruce Evans (for William Gourley, Ft. Ord Retiree Council), Clark Larson (for Barbara Nelson, City of Seaside), Julian Chacon (for Representative Sam Farr)
Absent – Colleen Freeman (for Assembly member John Laird) Rito Guerra (for Senator Abel Maldonado)
Mr. Mancini noted that Ila Mettee-McCutchon, Monterey County Fourth District Supervisor was in attendance.
2. Public Comment – None
3. Approval of minutes of meeting March 13, 2008 – Mr. Channell noted that in item #5, the last sentence, the word “with” be changed to read “based upon” as a more accurate reflection of the process of certification of the cemetery endowment fund. Motion (Mr. Stewart) and second to accept minutes as amended. Motion carried.
4. Report on the Central Coast Veterans’ Cemetery Foundation from Janet Parks, Foundation Chair. Ms Parks gave a history of the Foundation and efforts to establish a veterans’ cemetery on the central coast. She also reported that the Foundation has assets of $88,569.
Question (Mr. Stewart): How do people contact and contribute to the Foundation? Ms Parks: The Foundation address s 120 Aguajito Road, Suite 003, Monterey. The phone numbers are 647-7610 and 647-7614. There is an existing account to fund the placement of memorial tiles at the cemetery site and an account is being established specifically for contributions to go to the State endowment fund. Mr. Stewart: When will there be a “media blitz” to solicit contributions to the Foundation? Ms Parks: Past efforts by newspaper ads barely paid for themselves. I have made a number of radio appearances promoting the foundation. Mr. Aguillon: There are groups interested in engaging in fund raising efforts. There is one organization holding a series of barbeques to raise funds. The National VFW has also agreed to donate to the cemetery. Mr. Bogan: The State Commanders
Council, made up of the State’s veterans organizations, has expressed its support for a veterans’ cemetery in this area, but none of the member organizations has contributed to this effort. Visits to veterans’ organization posts in Santa Cruz, San Benito and Monterey counties have not been very successful in raising funds. Mr. Channell requested and received a clarification of the different funds to which donations may be made. Sgt. Purtle, California State Honor Guard: In the event someone wanted to make a sizable contribution to the cemetery, where should that contribution go? Mr. Bogan: Donations to the Foundation are charitable contributions for tax purposes. Mr. Garza: It is not clear whether contributions to the State endowment fund are tax deductible.
5., 6. Agenda items 5 and 6 were combined. Jim Cook provided an introduction to and overview of the RHAA Draft Existing Conditions Report dated April 8, 2008. He stressed that the focus for this presentation is the plan for the cemetery itself and that possible land development strategies are still being developed and discussed. He also pointed out that a portion of the parcel is not suitable for use as a cemetery and may have value as a habitat mitigation area. Cordy Hill (RHAA) went over the details of the draft plan, which had been distributed to the CAC members, and opened the proposal up for discussion. Mr. Stewart: Having the amphitheater outside the cemetery grounds, making it available for community use is an excellent idea. Mr. Jorgensen: Yes, but it is going to need a parking area as well. Ms Hill: There is a small parking area planned and there will be some roadside parking, but it is recommended that an arrangement be made with CSUMB or some other entity to park offsite and use shuttles. Mr. Bogan: The new VA/DOD clinic will be near the site and will not be open on weekends and holidays which may provide an opportunity for a parking area. Mr. Cook: We will need to look at the capacity of the roads to meet demands also. Sgt. Purtle: More than one “committal shelter” is needed. Ms Hill: Although the VA grant will only allow for one shelter, there are other areas in the plan that could be used for that purpose. Mr Stewart: If the ancillary chapel is built that will help address the need for areas to hold services. Is the site for the Veterans Memorial building and chapel outside the cemetery? Ms Hill: Yes. The property will be divided and that space will not be a part of the cemetery parcel. Mr. Channell: Is space enough for 20 years sufficient? Ms Hill: Just this small part of this original development area should take care of needs for 20 years. It is important to understand that the first State cemetery grant usually is enough to cover the first 10 years of need. The way the VA grant system works, as the need arises, the State applies for subsequent grants for further development. Mr. Jorgensen: VA is no longer planning for conventional full casket burials. They are planning for preset crypts for casket burials and cremains. Mr Aguillon: Is there any land available for immediate use? Mr. Cook: There are cleanup issues and phasing in the project that are being looked at, but there are no definite answers yet. Mr. Channell: What is the projected “life” of the entire property? Ms Hill (and others): 180 to 200 years. Audience member: Why will there be a need to go back to VA for additional grants? Doesn’t VA fund the whole thing? Mr. Jorgensen: VA funds construction at about 20 to 25 acres at a time and then awards further grants for additional construction. Mr. Pedrozo: Based upon my experience, the 83 acres planned for cemetery use is enough for a very long time and Cory is right, you cannot build it all at once, it has to be done in phases. Motion (Mr. Stewart) and second to authorize the consultant to move forward on the plan as presented. Mr. Channell: Does the motion include just the cemetery or the ancillary projects as well. (Chair): Just the cemetery. Motion carried.
Ms Hill initiated a discussion on the ancillary veterans’ memorial building and museum. Mr. Jorgensen and Mr. Garza: In the context of the earlier question about whether contributions should go to the State endowment fund or to the Cemetery Foundation , it would probably be best to route all contributions through the Foundation. That way, anything raised beyond the $3.4 million needed to make the fund viable may be retained to fund the ancillary projects. Mr Stewart: Under whose jurisdiction will the ancillary projects fall? I recommend the County and the Military & Veterans Affairs Office. Mr. Bogan: Any organization interested in presentations about the cemetery of giving a status report on the project should contact the CAC and someone will be made available to speak. Ms Parks: What is the intended purpose of a veterans’ memorial building. Mr. Stewart: The County of Monterey is the only County in the State that does not have a veterans’ memorial building. It provides a venue for events honoring veterans that does not now exist. Mr. Garza: It provides a central, consistent location for entities such as the CAC, United Veterans Council and the Military & Veterans Affairs Advisory Commission which all meet in “borrowed” space. It would also be a possible location for the Military & Veterans Affairs Office, which then could help provide staff coverage for the proposed military museum. Motion (Mr. Stewart) and second to approve the plan for the ancillary projects as presented. Mr. Evans: How large is the proposed amphitheater? Ms Hill: It is the same size as the one at the Riverside National Cemetery which holds 500 people. Motion carried.
7. Meeting adjourned at 2:35 pm. Next meeting is May 8, 2008 at Marina Library Community Meeting Room, 190 Seaside Circle, Marina, 1:00 – 3:00 pm.
Respectfully submitted by Richard F. Garza, Secretary, ex officio.