WeHo Proposes Spending $1.1 Million More on AIDS Monument

The City Council will be asked tonight to authorize the spending of an additional $1.1 million on the AIDS monument proposed for West Hollywood Park. If approved, that will bring the city’s total contribution to the monument to $1.2 million and projected costs for redevelopment of the 8-acre park to $96 million.

A report to the City Council from the city’s Community Development and Economic Development departments states that $250,000 of the new appropriation will be used to hire someone to reach out to various relevant communities for input on the “content” of the monument. City Council members have expressed concerns that the monument, which is being designed by Daniel Tobin, is weak when it comes to expressing information or sentiment about the AIDS epidemic. The city also will take on $206,000 of costs related to the project that formerly were assigned to the Foundation for the AIDS Monument (FAM), the non-profit group organized to create the monument.

Current plans call for a “Naming Wall,” which will include names of local people who died of AIDs as well as a “Donor Wall,” listing those who have contributed to FAM. The design process has been slowed down to incorporate content suggestions. However, the design of the monument site and its landscaping has proceeded.

The staff report notes that the city has been worried about FAM missing deadlines for the AIDS monument project, about a lack of transparency regarding its organization and about spending and high administrative and overhead costs. Another concern has been whether FAM’s budget for building the monument is large enough. The new appropriation comes with a contract between the city and FAM that calls for audits during the fundraising and development program. The staff report also expresses concerns that FAM and its designer will exceed the $2.5 million budget for the physical components of the actual monument, although it notes that FAM has agreed to stay within that budget.

The report says that FAM has addressed most of the city’s concerns. Also on the positive side, FAM last May hired an executive director, Michael Ferrera, who serves as project manager and is helping create the outreach and content development effort. FAM board member Rogerio Carvalheiro, an architect, is volunteering to coordinate between that organization, the city and the ARTIST on the project.

“Given FAM’s improved administration of and transparency related to the AIDS Monument project, and the additional financial and operational safeguards included, staff is satisfied with the proposed terms and commitments in the First Revised and Restated MOU that help move the AIDS Monument Project forward,” the report says.

The city will be able to renegotiate the contract if FAM misses significant deadlines. Ultimately, the completed project will be gifted to the city. But if FAM isn’t successful in raising the money needed and doing the construction to create the monument, the City of West Hollywood could develop a monument on its own or find another use for the site.

The AIDS monument process began in 2012, when the City Council decided to identify a site for the monument in the redeveloped West Hollywood Park. FAM began its capital campaign in 2014. Among its largest donors are Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, which made a donation of $250,000 and pledged an additional $250,000 in matching funds, and Visit West Hollywood, the city’s tourism promotion organization, which pledged $250,000 over five years.

The staff report notes that FAM has reduced its fundraising target to $4 million from $5 million, a figure that doesn’t include money spent for community outreach and content development. It has received approximately “$2.55 million in pledges to date and expects to reach $3.36 million by the end of 2017,” the report states.

“FAM’s fundraising plan also includes projections of $750,000 in contributions from governmental sources, inclusive a $200,000 grant from Los Angeles County and $550,000 in contributions from the City of West Hollywood.”

The staff is recommending that the City Council contribute up to $500,000 toward the cost of building the monument and an additional $50,000 help FAM coordinate its community engagement efforts with the city. Those contributions, however, would be “contingent on FAM meeting specific project development milestones, to be verified by the city and by dates certain.”

Several national AIDS monuments or memorials have been created in recent years. Three months ago the New York City AIDS Memorial, designed by Brooklyn’s Studio ai, opened on former site of St. Vincent’s Hospital in Greenwich Village. Last month, the London Assembly supported a proposal to build an AIDS memorial there. San Francisco’s National AIDS Memorial Grove was designated a national memorial by Congress is 1996, acknowledging that city’s reputation as the center of the AIDS/HIV crisis. That city is where one of the first known reports of the disease became public and also the original location of the AIDS Memorial Quilt.

Now underway is an effort, reported in The New York Times, to “ chronicle the AIDS tragedy more comprehensively, to explore the pandemic’s many facets in a permanent national exhibition and repository. It would be similar to institutions commemorating other cataclysmic events: the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, the National September 11 Memorial & Museum in Manhattan and the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum in Japan.”

The City Council will meet at 6:30 p.m. at the City Council Chambers, 625 N. San Vicente Blvd., south of Santa Monica.

  1. I agree with all who think that kind of money would and should be used to HELP CURRENT HIV/AID people and funding continued research.

    Besides, Unlike most “name wall memorials” – the Local Population who suffered and died from aids, were ordinary people (often outcast by families and their friends now gone too).

    A wall seems to remove the true story, history, horrific reality, and humanity who both suffered and those (including myself) who volunteered in the 90’s and saw and were the only resource on so many levels to the very ‘shameful’ label, attitude and treatment by the Country and General population towards a large number of suffering humans, who no government and many medical providers REFUSED to treat or help.

    A MUSEUM about the History of the AID Epidemic, when it hit, how society treated patients, and the long, terrible efforts made, that HAVE WORKED to make the original Diagnosis of AID/HIV a virtual Death Sentence from the 80′-90’s … and WERE WE ARE NOW – living WITH hiv/aids is a reality.

    Nothing big or fancy, but a real look, with photographs (and the names of those who passed, and would have wanted to be remembered, the pictures of the horrific drawn out death the first patients suffered, and the groups, movements and real ordinary local individuals who gladly volunteered countless hours on so many levels (PAWS, Project Angel Food and others …)

    I the the latest rendition to the West Hollywood park SECOND renovation looks less like a park (casual green grass, trees, benches, kids playground toys) and more like a crazy “PARK of WALLS” on all sides and now through the park (and of course a SECOND so call Grand Stair Case.

    Pretty. Flowers. Grass. Trees. Families … that’s a park.

  2. $250,000 salary for someone to reach out to various groups on the content of the memorial?? Shouldn’t that be part of someone’s existing job description already on payroll? Seems WAY overpaid.

  3. i think all the effort should go in acknowledging the people who have died from AIDS; the donors do not need any specific mention. At the presentation ceremony I am sure if there is a program that on the back of such program the donors can be listed, but to have a special place where the donors names are engraved on a wall, nah, that really takes away from the point of the AIDS monument. When the quilt was going around and being done by various friends, you didn’t see the name of the person who sewed the quilt, no, you saw the name of the people who had died, that was the purpose. Egos don’t need to be placated here. Just do the job and feel honored that you’re a part of it.

  4. P.S. And if people contribute because they want to see their name on the list of donors, so what? As long as they contribute & money is raised, it’s all good

  5. I should think that contributors would be proud to have their names publicly attached to this memorial. Not necessarily so much to acknowledge their monetary contribution but that they cared enough to be involved & inspire & encourage others to do the same. I remember back when it was the opposite & very few people wanted to be involved & the stigma attached to AIDS was very humiliating & many people died feeling shame & rejection. This memorial is a very classy & impressive tribute to the memory of those lost & helps restore the dignity many were denied at that time. If I made a contribution, I would see no reason to hide it but to be very proud to be included among those who made it happen.

  6. However it gets managed, I think this is an important addition to the city, and is something we need. I think the proposed design is quite stunning, and I like the prominent location, right on San Vicente Blvd..

  7. I agree with the last two comments as far as the donors should be anonymous. It would be tasteless to plaster the names of donors on a monument. It’s meant to honor the dead not honor the donors. They should be donating out of the goodness of their heart and not for recognition.

  8. Full disclosure, I first volunteered for AIDS Project Los Angeles (APLA) is June of 1983 and hired as their first Director of Volunteers in December of that year, a post I held until 1989.

    When I first heard about this project, I gave my contact information to Mark Lehman, the Chair of the FAM Board of Directors, at least a year or more ago, He never contacted me. I recently brought this matter before the City Council. Those of us who were there at the beginning and witnessed the Decade from Hell are not getting any younger. I will turn 73 in a few weeks. As I said to Council, none of us know how much gas is left in the tank (of life).

    Matt Redman, one of APLA’s founders, died recently, I asked Mr. Lehman in an email over this past weekend, if FAM had recorded his recollections. Shockingly, they did not. Mr. Lehman had lunch with Matt last fall and was unable to find a mutually agreeable date to do so. Really? And why did Mr. Lehman wait so long? Why the truly egregious delay?

    I am greatly troubled by the procedures of the FAM. Look at their website. There is a video of people, without any attribution, promoting the project. Mr. Lehman informed me that this video was two years old. My question is, why were not the monies expended on this video utilized to contact and capture the memories of those who were there at the beginning? Matt Redman is now dead and with him the incredible wealth of information he could have provided. Who’s next? What other memories will die? What then IS the purpose of this monument?

    I think the City needs to apply the brakes and not approve any additional monies for this project. The City must fully investigate FAM in all of its facets before appropriating any more funds.

    And I do agree with a previous comment that the names of donors should all be anonymous. The monument can be considered analogous to a cemetery and I don’t recall being in any cemetery where a donor list is displayed. It would be tasteless and certainly egocentric.

  9. The simple concepts of giving, compassion and gratitude appear marred by bureaucratic revenue streams. Poetic ideas lift the human spirit, a naming wall is fitting as in Michael Arad’s poolside at the WTC, a donor wall is unnecessary . Donations in the spirit of the word should be anonymous.

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