Old Glory, after dark: veterans test proposed lighting atop Mount Soledad

The color temperature of the flood lamps illuminating the flag atop Mount Soledad mirrors that of sunlight at noon. Pat Sherman photos
The color temperature of the flood lamps illuminating the flag atop Mount Soledad mirrors that of sunlight at noon. Pat Sherman photos
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The color temperature of flood lamps illuminating the flag atop Mount Soledad mirror that of sunlight at high noon. Pat Sherman photos

B

y Pat Sherman

Members of the Mt. Soledad Memorial Association conducted a public lighting test Wednesday night atop Mount Soledad, illuminating the American flag, steps and one section of the memorial wall.

Just before nightfall, residents, city staff and members of La Jolla Parks and Beaches, Inc. (LJP&B) and the La Jolla Community Planning Association gathered to view the lighting, for which the association is seeking an easement from the city to run electricity from the park entrance to the memorial.

The memorial was constructed with lighting fixtures in place, in anticipation of such a project one day being approved.

“Driving up seeing the flag lit is outstanding,” said LJP&B member Mary Coakley Munk, staring up at the billowing flag, illuminated by two 70-watt ceramic metal halide flood lamps.

“Anytime the flag is lit, it’s a good thing,” she said.

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Filtered and focused LED lights, which were tested Wednesday night, have been proposed to illuminate sections of the veterans’ memorial wall atop Mount Soledad.

LJP&B members Melinda Merryweather and Phyllis Minick also favored the lighting. Merryweather said her only criticism was that the bottom steps could be better it.

“Lighting the flag looks wonderful,” Minick said. “If it doesn’t bother anybody, I think it’s fine.”

Fellow LJP&B member John Beaver was not as enthusiastic, saying he felt the lighting was “unnecessary” from a safety standpoint. The memorial association said lighting the walkways and steps is necessary to prevent people from tripping after dark, though there have been no recorded incidences of this happening.

Beaver said he is OK with lighting the steps, though he feels the lamps should be at a “much lower illumination.”

Bill Kellogg of the Mt. Soledad Memorial Association, which would fund the project, agreed that after two other tests the wall lighting was still too bright.

“I think we’re going to need to cut down the wattage and probably direct them so they’re more at the wall,” he said, adding, “I think the illumination of the flag is pretty darn good, and I think it’s going to be a major enhancement to the site if we do it. I don’t think that it’s going to impact the neighborhood.”

In the background, the constitutionally challenged concrete cross was barely visible. Kellogg said lighting the flag would help “keep the focus on the veterans up here, which is really what we’re about.”

Frances Zimmerman

and several others opposed to project said the lighting has the potential to obscure views of the stars and other celestial bodies.

However, memorial association president Bruce Bailey said the stars were clearly visible during the generator-powered test.

“See that star right up there? See that other one?” Bailey asked, pointing skyward.

However, some in attendance questioned whether the lighting would ruin stargazing once the entire perimeter of the memorial was lit, instead of just one test section.

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Mike Williams with San Diego-based Rock Electric aims a lamp at the flag prior to the lighting test as La Jolla Parks and Beaches, Inc. treasurer Phyllis Minick looks on.

Harvey Rogoff, a project manager at Harper Construction Co., which is volunteering its services as a general contractor on the job, said the lights could easily be switched off during major astronomical events.

Rogoff said the color temperature of all three proposed light types is around 4200 degrees kelvin, which mirrors daylight at high noon.

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