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Benefactor To Donate and Help Maintain Flag at Centennial Park

The City Council voted unanimously to place a large, lighted flag in the gazebo area of Centennal Park, with an assist from county Supervisor Greg Cox, who drew in the donor.

When Supervisor Greg Cox learned last year of retired , he knew who to contact – his friend Bob Sutherland.

The Bonita resident had long expressed interest in having a large, lighted flag flying along San Diego Bay. 

“He didn't hesitate,” Cox said.

Sutherland, along with his wife Sue, agreed to pay for the flag on one condition: That it be dedicated to “all the men and women who serve and who have served in the United States military.”

A Vietnam War veteran, Sutherland owns several McDonalds franchises in the area, including the one at the Naval Amphibious Base, Cox said.  

“This is something to get to be happy about,” said Councilwoman Carrie Downey. “A couple of months ago we were talking about forming a committee to raise funds.” 

This is not the first time that the Sutherlands have stepped up to provide a large flag for a public building. Several years ago, the couple paid for a lighted flag pole in front of the county library in Bonita. 

“He is very committed to this community and this country,” Cox said. 

Because the flag will be placed on lands managed by the port, the project will require approval from the San Diego Unified Port Commission.

“It will be considered on June 7,” said Lou Smith, Coronado's port representative and current chair of the commission.

No one expects opposition there, but the California Coastal Commission could be a challenge. The flag will have to win its approval as well.   

“The only question we’ll have is how do we get this through Coastal, and get our good friends to salute when we raise it,” Smith said.

The issue before the City Council was where to place the flag pole. City staff suggested four sites at : the gazebo, the grass, the foot of the Ferry Landing pier and anywhere along the Bayshore Bikeway.

Martin and Harvey proposed putting it near the gazebo, but Downey said she has received letters from people saying that a flag there would obstruct the view of the bay. No residents appeared at the meeting to object, however.

“This is the ideal location,” Harvey countered. “All of the sight lines converge right here.”

The council agreed and voted unanimously to place the pole there. 

The exact height also was discussed. Some suggested that 40 feet might be more pleasing to the eye, but the general consensus was to leave the height and other particulars for Port or city aides to nail down. 

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