Monday, February 6, 2023

Demolition of Cays Guard Shack Saddens Residents

pre-demo Cays Guard Shack
Coronado Cays guard shack before it was demolished. Photo courtesy of Daron Case.

The guard shack at the entrance of the Coronado Cays was demolished in the early morning hours of October 22, 2016. All that’s left of the decades-old fortress that used to house friendly smiles, larger-than-life waves, and kind “hellos” is a small mound of dirt.

“Driving into the Cays will never be the same again,” says Daron Case, a long-time Coronado Cays resident.

demo-complete Coronado Cays Guard Shack
After the demolition of the old guard shack. Photo courtesy of Daron Case.

The shack was a staple of the Cays, and although the reason for leveling the building is understood, it doesn’t mean it’s favorable among Cays residents.

According to Coronado Cays Home Owners Association Vice President Ken Irvine, the structure was demolished for several reasons and will be rebuilt elsewhere.

“About eight years ago, I began a push to upgrade the entrance to the Cays,” says Irvine. “I did not think it represented the Cays appropriately for the $3 billion community that it is. Not only that, but the structure did not help the visibility at the entrance for pedestrians, bicyclists or automobiles. It was extremely dated. A dedicated committee from the CCHOA worked hand in hand with the City, Caltrans, and various designers to come up with today’s results. This was a culmination of laws, views, safety and appearance, and hard work.”

As for the aesthetic of the new structure, Irvine says he played an integral role in designing the architecture of the new kiosk.

“I actually sketched the new kiosk one night in my office and am glad to see it come to fruition,” says Irvine. “The outer wall, on the east side of the entrance will be redesigned to compliment with the rest of the design in the near future.”

Audley Tagging Cays Guard Shack
The guard shack was tagged with the word “Audley” just a few hours before the structure was demolished. Photo courtesy of Daron Case.

“It is a loss of tremendous nostalgic value that is hard to put into words,” says Case. “That being said, we [Coronado Cays residents] understand that times change and the reasons the guard shack was removed. However, that doesn’t discount the sentimental loss which can never be replaced.”

On the eve before the demolition, someone “tagged” the shack with the word “Audley,” in memoriam of Audley Knights, a well-loved security guard who stood guard at the kiosk from 1974 until 1990. Audley passed away in 2008.

“Audley Knights was a local Cays celebrity,” says Case. “I am confident Audley is smiling down from heaven pleased that he was recognized on the guard shack on the eve before its demolition.”

Audley Knight
Audley Knights welcoming residents into the Cays community. Knights emigrated from Tunapuna in Trinidad and was a sentry and greeter at the Cays from 1974 until 1990. He passed away in 2008.

The shack has a rich history, including some of the guards who occupied the shack such as Audley, who some describe as ‘the most beloved security guard ever at the Cays.’ “He was an ambassador to the Cays,” says Case. “I grew up here in the Cays with Audley greeting me every day.”

Several long-time Cays residents, including Ken Irvine, who lived in the Cays from 1977-1982 and purchased his home there in 1995, recall nothing but fond memories of the late Knights.

“I knew him very well,” says Irvine. “He used to bartend at some of my parents’ parties. He was extremely engaging, very witty and super friendly. He was a great ambassador for the Cays as we have never seen. Child or adult, you were always special in the eyes of Audley.”

“As a child growing up in the Cays, throughout the entire 80s, Audley was always there, smiling and waving from that security kiosk when we’d enter the Cays.,” says Case. “Therefore, that old guard shack meant ‘home’. When I would enter the Cays and go past the guard shack, it was like entering the womb. Now, that feeling is forever changed, as the old guard shack is no more. I am glad someone honored Audley in the final eve before the guard shack’s demolition.”

Within hours of the tagging, Coronado Cays Home Owners Association President Helen Kupta filed a police report about the incident with the Coronado Police Department.

“I think criminal prosecution would be turning a positive into a negative,” says Case. “Clearly whomever did this is a long-term Cays resident, as there is a reference to Audley.”

“This seems more like a good natured act much like the CHS tagging of the senior rock – something most CHS alum here will fondly remember,” says Case. “Perhaps the Cays should have a similar tradition where every half century when an old guard shack is replaced with a new one, the Cays residents write their fond memories on the shack the night before it is demolished.”

Do you have fond memories of the old guard shack? If so, we want to hear some of your stories. Please share them with us in the comments section below.


Ruth Klamper
Ruth Klamper
A graduate of Florida Southern College, Ruth has worked for ABC, CBS, and FOX affiliates, as well as the Home Shopping Network. She has traveled the world on mission trips and looks forward to planning her next adventure abroad.Have news to share? Send tips, story ideas or letters to the editor to: [email protected]