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ISC will remain open during Construction

A “trailer park-type trailer” that has served as a chapel for merchant sailors making stops in Long Beach and Los Angeles is slated to be demolished to make way for the Gerald Desmond Bridge replacement.

The trailer belongs to the International Seafarers Center of Long Beach/Los Angeles, which offers visiting sailors places to sleep, worship and to keep in touch with their loved ones overseas.

“It is our effort to look after all of these guys, who bring us this prosperity,” said Dick McKenna, president of the Seafarers Center and a retired Navy captain.

The Seafarers Center is at 120 Pico Ave., which is in Long Beach near both the western bank of the Los Angeles River and the sprawling construction site where workers are constructing a new bridge to link mainland Long Beach to Terminal Island. The chapel, as well as a chunk of the Seafarers Center’s parking area, is on land that construction workers need to build a new off-ramp to Pico Avenue as well as a bicycle path.

The Seafarers Center serves about 50 people daily, and McKenna said the facility will remain open during the bridge’s construction. Although its chapel has remained in use, the facility can continue to provide spiritual and other services after what he called a “termite-ridden” trailer is no longer there.

In terms of religious services, the Seafarers Center keeps a library of spiritual materials in different languages and also has relationships with chaplains who go on board ships at port, McKenna said.

Sailors visiting the center to attend to more earthly concerns often make use of the opportunities to make Skype calls back home, he said.

“Communications home are a very important and fundamental thing that we provide,” McKenna said.

The Port of Long Beach, part of Long Beach’s city government, owns the real estate where the Seafarers Center operates.

Long Beach’s Harbor Commission is scheduled to vote during its Monday evening meeting on a package of agreements that would allow construction crews to work near the center and to buy and tear down Seafarers Center assets that include the chapel and a basketball hoop.

If commissioners vote to approve the plans, the Seafarers Center would receive compensation of about $15,700.

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