Symbolic graveyard loses Port Angeles permit, is canceled

PORT ANGELES – Saturday’s peace march was originally expected to include a visit to a symbolic graveyard, with a marker representing each one of the 3,195 U.S. fighters who have died in Iraq in the last four years.

Instead, marchers were greeted with a sign at Valley Creek Estuary Park saying the permit for the crosses and markers of the Arlington Northwest display had been revoked.

“I’m saddened to learn that the township will not allow us to erect the markers,” said Alan Johanson of Port Townsend.

The display – created by Seattle’s Chapter 92 Veterans for Peace, in conjunction with the Evergreen Peace and Justice Community – was planned to be erected Saturday on Front Street, first in Valley Creek Estuary Park, then on private land to the east of the park.

The original permit was issued the first week of March, said Rose Marschall, of the Clallam County Peace Coalition, an organizer of an anti-war protest held Saturday at Veterans Memorial Park, 217 S. Lincoln St.

That permit allowed the display in the park, she said.

On Thursday, the local chapter of the Veterans for Peace – who had invited the Seattle chapter to set up the display in Port Angeles – realized that the land intended for the display was not the city park but rather the privately-owned land just east of it.

The city rescinded the permit for the park.

Nelson Cone, of the Chapter 139 of Veterans for Peace, said Thursday he received permission from the landowner, Harry Dorssers – who lives out of the country, to use the land.

But on Friday, Dorssers rescinded permission, saying he had thought the display would be a tribute but that now he understood it to be a protest.

“Because of an impression given by the newspaper [Peninsula Daily News] that . . . it was a political statement, the principal landowner withdrew support,” Cone told those who attended the rally on Saturday.

The city issued a revised permit on Friday to Cone for use of the pavilion in the park, but it did not allow the placement of anything in the ground, said Bill Sterling, deputy recreation director.

In the second permit, the city cited the sensitivity of the estuary in disallowing the full display of markers there.

Cherie Kidd. a member of the Soroptimist International of Port Angeles-Noon Club had expressed concerns Thursday that the placement of more than 3,000 markers in the ground would harm the estuary area, saying the place was environmentally-fragile.

The club – which raised $1.26 million to build the 2.6-acre park along the western end of Front Street – never took a formal stand on the issue.

Several members were concerned, said Kidd.

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