2 late Upland leaders to have new plaza, stage named in their honor – San Bernardino Sun

After approving a new park that will become a focal point for downtown Upland, the City Council Monday, March 28 voted to name the park and the band stage in memory of prominent residents who contributed to the city’s civic and social fabric.

The new downtown urban plaza between Second and Third avenues will be named after former City Council Member Tom Thomas, 68, who died Feb. 26, 2022 from injuries sustained when he was struck by a motorcycle while riding his bicycle in Montclair.

And the band stage will be named after Roman “Roach” Foronda, who performed for nearly 50 years with his band Backstreet at the Upland Lemon Festival, high school reunions, dances, clubs and bars. His trademark Fender Telecaster was as known as his warm smile, both moving those in attendance to get up and dance.

Foronda died in early January due to complications from COVID-19.

Thomas served 20 years on the Upland City Council and later as a board member of the San Antonio Water Co. in Upland. His efforts included serving on the Upland Sister City Association, the Upland Community Foundation and the Upland Police Foundation. He helped raise funds for numerous causes, including the Grove Theatre, Carnegie Library and the Upland Skate Park. An avid cyclist, he was a champion of the Pacific Electric Bicycle and Pedestrian Trail, which crisscrosses through the new park.

Mayor Bill Velto called Thomas a mentor and one of the most caring persons he had ever met. “The more I got to know him, the more I realized this guy cares more about others and the community than anyone I’ve ever met,” he said at the City Council meeting, packed with supporters and family members of both men.

Many of Foronda’s band mates spoke Monday about how he influenced their careers but mostly about the way Roach would greet audience members and make them feel like part of the concert. Councilwoman Janice Elliott said she remembered dancing to the music of Backstreet. “I love that the stage (at the park) will be named after him,” she said.

The exact wording of the park and the band stage is being decided and will be voted on by the City Council at a future meeting.

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