Thursday, April 11, 2024

Freedom Park: Stage is Set for Largest Veterans Park on the West Coast

Port of San Diego Intends to Designate Nearly 10 Acres for Freedom Park and Approves Contract for Navy Pier Headhouse Demolition

As part of the Port of San Diego and USS Midway Museum’s Freedom Park project, the Board of Port Commissioners has approved a proclamation of intention to designate nearly 10 acres of the Embarcadero as Freedom Park upon the transformation of Navy Pier into a park. Freedom Park is anticipated to open in 2028.

Beginning at the west end of Navy Pier and going around the Midway to the Bob Hope Memorial, Freedom Park will celebrate the region’s military history and tell the story of everyday heroes who served our country and preserved our freedoms. It will provide visitors with unique experiences on the waterfront with numerous public amenities, including a nature garden, memorials and monuments, play structures, seating and shading, and interpretive signage.

“This project has been an incredible undertaking and we’re proud to work with the USS Midway Museum to deliver on our promise to transform Navy Pier into a public park,” said Chairman Frank Urtasun, Port of San Diego Board of Port Commissioners. “As the most visited military museum nationally and a San Diego favorite for locals and visitors, we’re excited that Freedom Park will connect the history of Navy Pier with the service of the Midway along with the other existing veteran and military memorials in Tuna Harbor to become a one-of-a-kind destination and a unique experience for all.”

“Freedom Park at Navy Pier will be the largest veterans park on the West Coast,” said Terry Kraft, the USS Midway Museum’s president and CEO. “Throughout history, this country has owed an incredible debt to the men and women who have worn the cloth of our nation. This community park will be a tribute to their service and sacrifice. It will also be a beautiful gathering place on the bay for all San Diegans as well as visitors to our great city. Freedom Park will completely transform the Embarcadero, and all of us on Midway are excited to be part of it.”

The Board has also approved an approximately $7.4 million contract with AMG Demolition and Environmental Services, Inc. for demolition of the headhouse, a large building that sits at the entrance of the pier. Demolishing the headhouse will make way for construction of Freedom Park at Navy Pier.

Demolition of the headhouse is anticipated to begin in the spring, followed by additional structural improvements under the pier, and then construction of Freedom Park at Navy Pier.

The preliminary estimated cost for completion of Freedom Park at Navy Pier, which includes the headhouse demolition and structural improvements is currently approximately $65 million. In an April 2022 Memorandum of Understanding between the Port and the Midway, the Midway committed to cover the costs of the headhouse demolition, reinforcement of the pier, entry improvements and construction of the park. The Port agreed in the MOU to complete repairs to the structural pilings under the pier, work for which was done in 2023 at a cost of $11.7 million.

Generally, Freedom Park at Navy Pier will include pedestrian pathways around and through the park, landscaping, enhanced paving, benches, play structures, memorials and monuments, coastal access and interpretive signage, signage, restrooms, concessionaire, and parking.

Proposed park features include:

  • A wide public promenade along north side of pier to connect the east and west ends with well-connected pathways and trails throughout the entire park with educational programming elements incorporated
  • Signage to invite and welcome public to access the public park
  • Shade structure, seating, and bike parking along promenade
  • A low seat wall with turf mound for sitting, picnic and active use
  • Plantings that emphasize California natives or plant species indigenous to the region, allowing for non-native, non-invasive shade trees
  • Mobile play and seating elements
  • Flagpole at west end of pier
  • Activated seating at west end of pier
  • Monuments:
    • John Finn Memorial (San Diego native, first Medal of Honor recipient in WWII)
    • Family Homecoming at west end of pier
  • A public restroom/comfort station
  • Creation of a mobile phone microsite (or similar) dedicated to the history of the pier, the Midway, and San Diego Bay; mobile application will also compliment interpretive signage incorporated into the park on the pier and the existing park space in the surrounding area
  • A snack concessionaire to provide low-cost offerings



Managing Editor
Managing Editor
Originally from upstate New York, Dani Schwartz has lived in Coronado since 1996. She is happy to call Coronado home and to have raised her children here. In her free time she enjoys reading, exercising, trying new restaurants, and just walking her dog around the "island." Have news to share? Send tips or story ideas to: [email protected]

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