Green light given for Mendez monument

SYLVIA MENDEZ addressing the Westminster City Council Wednesday night (OC Tribune photo).

By Jim Tortolano

A pair of civic landmarks occupied the attention of the Westminster City Council when it met on Wednesday night.

The council approved the development of a new pocket park at the northeast corner of Westminster Boulevard and Olive Street as the site for the future Mendez v. Westminster School Board monument.

Sylvia Mendez, in whose name the historic school de-segregation lawsuit was pursued in 1946, was present and addressed the council.

“Schools can use this monument as a teaching tool for all students,” she said. Mendez v. Westminster was a milestone case that ended the practice in California of segregating Mexican students from other races. It was cited in the better-known Brown vs. Board of Education in which the U.S. Supreme Court struck down all racial segregation in public schools across the nation.

“Thank you for laying out a strong foundation for future generations,” Mayor Tri Ta said to Mendez, now 82.

The council also heard a lengthy presentation from the Sheldon Group, which has an agreement with the city for the redevelopment of the Civic Center located south of Westminster Boulevard and one block east of Beach Boulevard.

Several concept maps and illustrations were presented, and the two basic alternatives involved building either a one- or two-story city hall.

In one variation, the city hall and council chamber would be combined in a one-story building, with the existing community service and senior center in a separate structure, or alternatively, the city hall and council chamber and community/senior center combined in one two-story building.

As envisioned, the Sheldon Group would build the new Civic Center in exchange for the right to construct residential development on the northern part of the property close to Westminster Boulevard.

In all the alternatives, the sunken gardens would be eliminated. “We will build something equal to or superior to the gardens,” promised Steve Sheldon, who heads the development firm.

The illustrations exhibited showed a modern architectural style, instead of the current Tudor/Old English motif used when the original center opened in 1968.


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