City Struggles to Preserve the Queen Mary

By: 
Catalina Garcia

The R.M.S. Queen Mary will observe the 55th anniversary of her arrival in Long Beach on Dec. 9, following a tumultuous year in which the leaseholder, Urban Commons LLC filed for bankruptcy.

The city has since been able to regain control of the ship and faces three imperative restoration projects needed to reopen the ship. The first project at hand and happening currently is the removal of the lifeboats.

Mayor Robert Garcia said, “The city has estimated the cost of initial repairs to be approximately $5 million. Initial funding of $2.5 million was approved by the City Council as part of the FY 2022 budget.”

The most critical projects have been identified as “The removal of the deteriorated lifeboats.” A report from Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates Inc. of Pasadena, said that these lifeboats are causing stress to the side shell of the ship and are causing cracks in the support system. This led to the city contracting with Exbon Enterprises, Inc. to remove the lifeboats and dispose of some of them.

The city has stated they will retain two of the Queen Mary original lifeboats. The remaining lifeboats will all be taken down. Anyone interested in preserving the lifeboats should contact Johnny Vallejo in the city’s Economic Development Department.

There is hope for preserving the ship and it’s coming from a community nonprofit, QMI Restore the Queen. QMI is an international foundation dedicated to the preservation of the Queen Mary and her history. It was formed in November 2012 and gained IRS approval in October 2016. They have dedicated the past 10 years to raising awareness about the ship.

They continue to collect donations, which are being held by F&M Bank until the city provides direction on to whom the checks should be payable. QMI has been asking this same question for a decade. Donations are coming in from all around the world and as far as Germany, Scotland and Australia. QMI Restore the Queen is the only IRS-approved 501C3 non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of the RMS Queen Mary.

Mary Rohrer and the QMI board of seven have invested their own time and money into building a simple vehicle for people to participate in the ship’s preservation. “Preservation of the ship should be open to anyone that wants to help, regardless of where you reside. We all have Queen Mary stories and people truly care and want to help,” said Rohrer.

Rohrer has been going to the Queen Mary since she was seven years old and like many has an emotional connection to her home city and the ship. So, seeing it not being properly handled is unacceptable to her and the QMI board members.

The main problem QMI Restore the Queen has experienced over the last decade in dealing with the City of Long Beach is what they see as a lack of transparency and cooperation in welcoming QMI’s involvement with fundraising efforts and including the community in helping with a long term solution. QMI has not received responses for a meeting with Mayor Robert Garcia or City Manager Tom Modica.

QMI sent detailed emails asking for clarification on how to become a city “qualified nonprofit” to raise and contribute funds. Rohrer says, “We have met with the city over 12 times in 10 years and they know who we are and what we are trying to do.” On Feb. 15, city staff member Johnny Vallejo sent board member Mike Rohrer a “text” message telling them to contact Public Works.

QMI reached out to their city contacts after receiving 12 calls from upset people that were claiming the city was disposing of lifeboats. One of the witnesses was aboard the ship last week and heard first from an Exbon employee that the lifeboats are to be dismembered and thrown in the trash.

According to Rohrer’s phone conversation on Feb. 14 with Mouhsen Habib, of Public Works, “There have been no original plans to restore or preserve the seven lifeboats due to them having “no historical value.” This came as a shock to Rohrer as “some of the lifeboats being removed are from the RMS Queen Elizabeth, the sister ship of the Queen Mary” said Rohrer.

Rohrer mentioned that because QMI reached out to the city for answers that there has now been a pause placed on the destruction of some of the lifeboats that were going to be trashed. On Feb. 7 the city issued a formal RFP for all interested in obtaining one or more of the lifeboats.

For more information on QMI or to donate, visit www.Qmi.Care or call (951) 532-5711.

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Comments

I would be happy to contribute to have a tug drag that rusty hulk to a watery grave. Let's stop wasting money. Better to have a container terminal there.

There are more important things than money
Hearts and memories. It won’t happen thank God. People like you...

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