People sit under cover at Veterans Memorial Park in Port Angeles during a light rain. (Jesse Major/Peninsula Daily News)

People sit under cover at Veterans Memorial Park in Port Angeles during a light rain. (Jesse Major/Peninsula Daily News)

Port Angeles aims for fence around Liberty Bell this summer

Parks, Recreation and Beautification Commission recommends barrier to prevent more damage

PORT ANGELES — The city of Port Angeles will install a fence around the Liberty Bell replica at Veterans Memorial Park to protect the $70,000 bell from further damage.

The decision was made following a recommendation from the Parks, Recreation and Beautification Commission on Thursday evening.

“The Veterans Memorial Park subcommittee recommends the parks director install an ornamental security fence around the Liberty Bell at Veterans Memorial Park, not the park itself,” said Commission member Carol Sinton.

“The project scope includes an ornamental security fence from pillar to pillar around the Liberty Bell that complements the park design and neighborhood structures.”

She said the fence should include a locking gate in the front that will give veterans access to the bell for the monthly bell ringing ceremony honoring veterans who have recently died.

The subcommittee also recommended the city add lighting and a security camera, which could be done later if the funding isn’t immediately available.

Funding for the project must be sourced from community donations or other resources and cannot negatively impact the Parks and Recreation budget, she said.

The recommendation came as many have raised concerns of people causing damage at Veterans Memorial Park on Lincoln Street. People have also have raised concerns of drug use, sex and vandalism by people gathered at the park.

Parks and Recreation Director Corey Delikat said after the discussion that the fence likely will be installed this summer, though the funding needs to be secured first.

“This wasn’t on our work plan but I do know how important it is to the community, so my plan is to get it done this summer,” Delikat said.

He said he will be in touch with the fundraising team and that the city will start looking at the design and begin the bid process.

“They felt confident they can raise any number that we needed, so we just need to figure out what that number is,” Delikat said.

It had been estimated a decorative fence could cost about $17,000.

Former mayor Karen Rogers, who has spearheaded the community effort to raise funds for the fence, said donations amounting to $10,000 have come in for the project.

“We need to nail down a budget with Corey,” Rogers said. “It is my intention to work with the others to put together a fund that takes care of everything — the fencing, the security camera and the lighting — so we can just get it done right and get it done once.”

She said she thanks the commission for its service and for the process it used to make the decision.

Many left last month’s commission meeting feeling the commission had delayed the process by creating a subcommittee that was tasked with creating a subcommittee that involved community members.

Iris Winslow, chair of the commission, said that last month’s meeting was the first time that the commission had discussed the issues at the park.

“I know that last month several people left the meeting disapointed … feeling that we weren’t really making a decision,” she said. “It’s clear that something needed to be discussed about the bell and there were things we needed to talk about before we made a decision.”

Winslow said when the commission sends an issue to subcommittee it is actually expediting the process.

She said three commission members — herself, Sinton and Tim Tucker — met with Delikat and agreed that the issue is about facility.

“There are ordinances, policies and procedures in place to handle the human-caused issues at the park and those are conversations that really are best left to the council level,” she said. “When it comes to the facilities though, that is definitely in our purview.”

She said the subcommittee then met with five community members who had spoken during the meeting to discuss options moving forward. The focus of the discussion was how to protect the bell.

“By the end of the night it was clear that what we all agreed on was that the bell needed some form of protection,” Winslow said. “What that looked like, we had a lot of different perspectives on that.”

Winslow, Sinton and Tucker then met again to discuss options and decided a fence was the best option to protect the bell.

She said other options were considered, but they required levels of community engagement and city enforcement that Winslow said would not be sustainable.

“What we decided is putting up a fence in partnership with the community … would be at this point the best choice for protecting the bell,” Winslow said. “But it needs to be beautiful and blend in.”

Donations toward the fence are to be written to the PA Veterans Memorial Park Fund, Rogers said Friday. The account is at Strait View Credit Union at 220S. Lincoln St., in Port Angeles.

“People can still call me on my cell phone if they want me to pick up a check,” Rogers said. Her cell phone number is 360-460-5995.

There is also a gofundme website at gf.me/u/suwztw. By Friday, $735 had been raised through the site.

For more information about how to donate, contact Rogers at 360-460-5995 or email her at [email protected].

________

Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at [email protected].

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