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Union Circle Park flagpole taken down in La Jolla, refurbishing work begins

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Grunow Construction crews, using ropes and braces, lower the flagpole down inch by inch.
(Ashley Mackin-Solomon)

City employees, La Jolla Historical Society reps, residents and crew members from Grunow Construction met at Union Circle Park on Park Row the cloudy Monday morning of April 29, to see oversee the historic flagpole taken down for restoration.

Work will continue this week, and possibly into next week, to repair the flagpole as part of a project that is bringing together Park Row residents, the Historical Society, La Jolla Parks & Beaches committee and local contractors.

Over the course of an hour and 17 minutes (plus an hour of prep time), crews carefully brought the 1940s flagpole down inch by inch to preserve its integrity. The flagpole itself was guarded with wood so it could be lowered with braces and ropes without damage to the paint and exterior.

The flagpole’s base currently has termite- and water-damage from the City’s sprinkler system and the paint is peeling. A memorial plaque affixed to the base is also worn out.

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When talks were underway to replace the flagpole, the City’s pricetag was $16,000. So La Jolla contractor Tom Grunow stepped in and found people willing to volunteer (or offer at a reduced cost) their equipment and services to lower the flagpole, clean it up, make any needed repairs, repaint it and put it back up again. Now, the total cost is around $1,750.

Funding came from a former resident, who passed away last year, and left money to the La Jolla Historical Society.

The plan was joyfully approved by the La Jolla Parks & Beaches advisory group.

When the flagpole initially went up, it was dedicated to Walter Lieber, who lived in La Jolla in the early 1940s and was known for planting trees throughout town. When Lieber died in 1945, friends and family put up the flagpole and a little bronze plaque with his name on it.

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The plaque was refurbished, but because it only had Lieber’s name, birth date and death date on it, the new plaque will have a little more information about him. An additional plaque will likely be made to honor the donor who helped fund the project. The wording is being finalized.

As previously reported in the Light, Grunow said: “This project is meaningful to me because I love La Jolla and get great satisfaction from volunteering and making a difference here. La Jolla has been good to me and my company (and I see this) as a way for me to give back.”


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