Liberty sooner or Liberty later: A bit like Viaduct Vs. Tunnel

nwartsstatuephoto1.jpgMore than two dozen heat-braving souls just wrapped up the first of two meetings led by an earnest Alki couple, Libby and Paul Carr, who are trying to salvage the stalled Alki Statue of Liberty plaza project. Ultimately, the final say on the future of this West Seattle icon rests elsewhere …… specifically, with the city Parks Department, represented at tonight’s meeting by Pamela Kliment. (She wants to hear from anyone and everyone with an opinion about the statue’s future; click here to e-mail her.)

A few more facts about the situation, and what could happen next, were revealed tonight. We’ll try to bullet-point them, since it’s too hot to sit still much longer at the computer, and if you read this within a few hours of when we write it, you’ll probably agree:

*Architects Matt Hutchins and Chris Ezzell have put 500 “pro bono” hours into designing the potential plaza, centering on the newly recast statue (which is done and paid for) atop a new pedestal that would incorporate the plaque from the current one. The architects were there tonight to show their renderings; you can see them here. They also offered a rough estimate of about $135,000 for the plaza project.

*The Carrs explained their role by saying they originally had volunteered to help unveil the new statue and wound up (apparently because of past organizing experience) taking a leadership role in the project because of some reported changes at Northwest Program for the Arts, which had been spearheading it previously.

*What NPA has done with the money paid by people who ordered engraved bricks to be part of a potential plaza, no one seems to know. (A show of hands at tonight’s meeting suggested that most in attendance had bought at least one of those bricks. The city says the bricks could still be incorporated into an installation of the new statue on the oldd base.)

*The Carrs have already drawn up plans for a new fundraising campaign, showing off an org chart tonight and introducing more than half a dozen people who have volunteered to lead various facets of the process, including a computer expert whom they say is helping them launch a new project website. (They say it will be at within a week — for Seattle’s Lady Liberty; they also offered some backstory on the history of this statue and many others installed nationwide by the Boy Scouts more than a half-century ago.)

*They say the new pedestal incorporated into the plaza project would be more vandalism-resistant. However, attendee questions drew out the fact that the recast statue (currently in waiting in Tacoma) is much sturdier than the old one, and would be tougher to harm with tactics such as the frequent torch-arm-removal that has happened over the years.

*The new statue’s extra sturdiness and weight (now 1,500 pounds) would not be a problem for the old pedestal to hold, according to Parks Department rep Kliment.


Given the percentage of attendees who either are already involved in the campaign or said they had purchased bricks in the last fundraising round, it wasn’t surprising to see a straw vote tonight come out about 10 to 1 in favor of the new plaza. Kliment noted quite firmly that she couldn’t take much stock in that and wants to hear from more members of the community. (Here’s that e-mail link again.)

One man noted that the next anniversary of 9/11 is just two months from today, and reminded everyone that the original 9/11 drew mourners to the Alki Statue of Liberty from all over the area. He voiced regrets that there’s just an empty base holding its place, and wondered if perhaps a flag could be placed in time for the next anniversary.

As for an overall time frame, the Carrs seemed optimistic that the new plaza could be in place within a year. The Parks Department says the new statue could return to its old base a lot sooner. This is why the situation reminds us something of the Tunnel Vs. Viaduct debate we all went through earlier this year (no Third Option in this one that we know of, however) — it’s a choice between a thing of unquestionable beauty requiring more money and more time, and something functional that could be accomplished more cheaply and in less time.

Take a look at the plaza renderings again.

Do you think the area west of the Alki Bathhouse needs the plaza to grace the re-created statue, or would you be happy just to see it back on its old base, a tree stump, whatever? We’ll say it one more time — take a minute now to tell the city what you think. If you want to hear more about the plaza, the Carrs plan a rerun of tonight’s informational meeting next Monday night — when we can only hope the near-100 heat will be in our rear-view mirror! (And if you’re ready right now to jump into the project, the Carrs were circulating a sign-up sheet tonight and say they’ll welcome more help … we expect there’ll be a link once the website is up.)

21 Replies to "Liberty sooner or Liberty later: A bit like Viaduct Vs. Tunnel "

  • pamela kliment July 12, 2007 (12:54 pm)

    Actually, there is a third option. There could be a design that would spruce up the area a bit, find a home for the tiles and replace the statue. Depending on the design, there might be enough money already to do it or some more fundraising might be required.
    thanks again

  • huindekmi July 12, 2007 (1:07 pm)

    The new plaza design looks nice. It would probably be one of the most popular skateboard parks in the city!
    I doubt it would do anything to curb vandalism, though. Lights would help, but that would apply to the existing base as well. Otherwise, raising it a couple more feet off the ground won’t do a thing. And no, you wouldn’t need a ladder.

  • t July 13, 2007 (1:38 am)

    I say we get the statue back up there ASAP, on a “spiffed up” plaza but not a major redesign. Then we can continue a discussion about a major re-design of the plaza as a separate and longer conversation.

  • Jo July 13, 2007 (7:27 am)

    I was at the meeting on Wednesday night, and was pretty discouraged by how the Phase II organizers and their many friends were acting like this $135,000 plaza is going to be a done deal. Those few of us who were asking for a return of our paid-for, completed statue, were not received well, to say the least. All we heard were “can’t be done, can’t be done.”
    The plans for the spiffy new plaza are beautiful, but I think this new committee is being very unrealistic about how hard it’s going to be to raise $135,000. They’re saying it’s going to take a year to raise money, allow for construction, and have new statue installed. Someone hasn’t thought this through.
    Maybe they should get in touch with the organizers of Whale Tale Part and see what a long hard battle that was. And it was for CHILDREN!
    All I’m asking for is a compromise. I’m with the Parks Department on installing new statue on a spruced up existing base.
    How about the Phase II committee setting up their fund raising to specific goals: 1) raise funds for new base, and reinstall statue on new base, 2) Raise funds for surrounding engraved tiles, then install, 3) raise funds for surrounding benches, etc., etc. Maybe not exactly in those stages, but something like that. Maybe all that would take a year, maybe longer, but at least we could see some progress, and not be in limbo land as to where the project sits.
    I’ll be at the meeting on Monday night. And hopefully others besides the Phase II committee members and friends will show up, too. I know we’re out there. Also, please let Pamela Kliment of the Parks Dept know your feelings on this subject. Ultimately, the Parks Dept. has to maintain the “Plaza” and they have the final decision on this project. They are listening, people.

  • matt July 13, 2007 (8:06 am)

    As one of the designers of the project, I hope that community will continue to support the project. It will give the statue the setting it deserves and create a more welcoming public gathering space, sorely lacking now. After all, this is a Seattle and Alki landmark, and should have a more honorable place for us and future generations to enjoy.

    If anyone has any questions or comments I’d be happy to respond, especially what the project would do to minimize future vandalism. I agree that lighting would be helpful no matter what happens, but the Parks department is cool to the idea.

    The Parks department has continually warned us that they have little to no money for additional maintenance (balking at even lighting the plaza), and has not presented any plans or allocated money to do any improvement, so I fear that once the Statue goes up, the interest in improving this area will dry up too. I wouldn’t assume that once the Statue goes up, there will be a phase 2.

    I too would like to get the Statue up as soon as possible, but if to do that, we get status quo ante and no improvement to the public space, we will have missed out on a great opportunity to beautify this part of the boardwalk.

    If you support the project, I urge you to email Pam and let her know.

  • Jo July 13, 2007 (8:20 am)

    Matt: just a question.
    Why do the renderings of the Plaza show the statue rotated, facing West? That’s not the position of the original statue.
    Just wondering why the change.

  • Jo July 13, 2007 (8:59 am)

    Another question, Matt.
    Is there a breakdown in costs for specific areas of the design available.
    Cost of the new pedestal alone? Parks Dept would install statue at their expense, I assume.
    Cost of installing engraved/blank bricks around pedestal?
    Cost of surrounding concrete ramp, benches, planting areas?

  • matt July 13, 2007 (9:12 am)

    Yes, it is rotated 20 degrees to the west, but still faces the water, of course. It aligns with with the primary entrance from the street and from the boardwalk, and because it is slightly rotated, we can create a deeper gathering space in front of the statue, where you can actually sit down, look up and see her face.

    The other reason for the shift is more functional. Because the city drives maintenance vehicles through the plaza, we wanted to offset the statue within it, give the vehicles space on the east side, since the pedestal doesn’t have a big planter to protect it, and have a more intimate space on the west side where people not feel like like they were standing in a driveway.

    So the slight shift in angle allows for a gathering space in front of the statue, and continues to allow Parks to drive maintenance trucks through there, without fundamentally altering the statue’s relationship with the water.

  • matt July 13, 2007 (9:16 am)


    I didn’t see that additional question when I was posting the response to the first one. I have to run to the airport now and I’ll post a more detailed response when I get back in town on Monday.

  • Paul Carr July 13, 2007 (10:45 am)

    It’s interesting how perceptions get spun. This debate over “new base or old base” is a perfect example. The people already decided, quite clearly, they wanted the new base and plaza two years ago. Not every single person wanted it then, and the same is true today. But the vast majority DID want it, and they voted for it, both in community meetings and with their pocketbooks: it is our understand that most of the bricks were sold AFTER the plans for the new plaza were shown.
    Now this issue is being spun around to sound as if it was not already a settled issue. It reminds me of the Monorail–it passed three times, and each time the opponents said, “We need another vote.”
    Also, nobody ever said the old statue committee had enough money to finish the project; only that they had enough money so far to cast the statue, which they did. They were going to have to raise these same additional funds. They just bogged down first.
    All we are proposing is that we finish what was started, and what the great majority of people who bought bricks (including my wife and I) said they wanted.
    Yes, it will take a little longer, but it will take a little longer if the City does it too, it will have to go through the same design review process, and it will be subject to budget constraints in a City that is so strapped for funds it is talking about laying off employees. Also, how much sense does it make to spend your tax money to do something the City admits will not be as beautiful or functional as the proposal before us?
    In fact, given that we are proposing doing this with private money, why is the City pressing so hard to take over the project?
    It’s a good question. If you want some answers, then come to the Alki Community Council meeting next Thursday at 7 PM at the Alki Community Center. Representatives of both the new Statue Committee and the City will be there to present their views.

  • WSB July 13, 2007 (10:59 am)

    Paul – for clarification – is the Thursday ACC meeting in addition to the meeting you said you would be holding on Monday as well, or is it replacing that? Just want to be sure we are accurately telling people here about their chances to find out more. (And is the Monday meeting same time/same place as this past Wednesday?)

  • Jo July 13, 2007 (11:12 am)

    Paul, I understand what you’re trying to say about the community expressing desire for new spiffy plaza concept.
    But…I was at those meetings, and I voted for new design, and my impressions were that by the time the statue was cast and ready for installation, all would be in place to do so.
    I don’t think anybody realized that the statue would be down for 2-3 years, and we would be left staring at that hideous box on top of the base.
    I absolutely makes no sense for the paid-for, completed statue to be held ‘hostage’ until the ‘ransom’ can be paid to bring her home.
    I’ve asked for a breakdown in costs from Matt and he has stated he’d have them for us on Monday when he returns to town.
    These are questions that the community needs to ask now, at this time, since circumstances have changed from those original meetings.

  • Texas July 13, 2007 (3:45 pm)

    >>In fact, given that we are proposing doing this with private money, why is the City pressing so hard to take over the project?

    The project is on city property. ANY project on city property must meet certain standards and go through certain procedures and follow a certain protocol. Citizens expect as much, because the city is the steward of public land. Being privately financed doesn’t give a project any special rights or privileges. Imagine if the man-boy-love society decided to privately fund a statue at Alki playground. Or the Aryan Nation (or whatever it’s called) decided to privately fund an addition to the Alki Community Center. Any project on public land is under the purview of the city, and the project must be shepherded and monitored by the city. That’s the bottom line.

  • Peggy July 13, 2007 (4:16 pm)

    There appears to be some particular personal agandas at work (as susual), here by the sound of the blogs and intensity of emotions expressed, regarding a simple thing like rebuilding and remounting a beloved statue on a well designed plaza, funding by public money.

    It’s probably just politics as usual around here. Some frequent voices seem to be defending their turf instead of giving a good thought to the quality of the end result. The design seems to have been done in good conscience by a reputable firm of architectural designers working with the city and keeping the users and neighbors to this area in mind. Ther are no substantial problems withthe design as I see it. It is quite attractive and makes a considerably enhanced statement many will enjoy.

    As with most projects of this kind it has gone through many changes and hours of worjk and commitee meetings and reflects much thought and much input where most of the present considerations now being expressed have been addressed.

    It seems most prudent to follow through with the design we now have as presented to enhance our lovely Alki historic beach with a commenmotive staue and plaza worth investing our time and money already pledged and being again contributed to for getting it replaced effeciently. The time spent waitng will be minimal and rewarded with a fine solution. ther will be a chance for a proper celebration all can feel proud of and draw the community closer with a great design and designation befitting of its past. Beautiful things get vandalized less because of the respect tehy generate and it’s harder to vandlaize a well attended area.

    I hope we make good use of the major interest being generated at this time in raising the remaining needed funds while so many are currently interested inthis porject. We should resolve this whole thing quickly since we have such a well engineered and hopefully well organized communtiy project. It looks like it will be completed in a way we could all feel really good about.

    We have too many other “re=thinks” that have resulted in a poor end result, such as the monorail fiasco, the tunnel vs Viaduct still unresolved.

    While we have two lovely stadiums that got many rethinks too, they still do not represent what the public voted for, but at least they are wonderful facilities. Let’s do a good thing here in Alki and West Seattle, and do it well.

    What is the rush for a half baked project that will probaly take just as long for something a lot less appealing?

  • Texas July 13, 2007 (7:21 pm)

    Paul Carr says:
    >>>In fact, given that we are proposing doing this with private money, why is the City pressing so hard to take over the project?

    Private financing doesn’t give a project special rights or privileges. Any project on public land must go through certain processes and follow certain protocol. The projects must be overseen by the city. We should expect no less as citizens. Imagine if the Aryan Nation decided to privately fund an addition to the Alki Community Center, or if the man-boy-love society (whatever it’s called) decided to privately fund a statue at Alki Playground. This project is on PUBLIC land, not private land. It will also be up to the city to maintain the property after it’s done. The city also has an interest in what kinds of activities the project will attract. For example, a lit plaza will be a beacon for skateboarders at night. There are many considerations other than funding, and I would expect the city to be heavily involved. It would be remiss of them not to be.

  • cityscape July 13, 2007 (7:28 pm)

    Paul Carr says:
    >>>In fact, given that we are proposing doing this with private money, why is the City pressing so hard to take over the project?

    Private financing doesn’t give a project special rights or privileges. Any project on public land must go through certain processes and follow certain protocol. The projects must be overseen by the city. We should expect no less as citizens. Imagine if the Aryan Nation decided to privately fund an addition to the Alki Community Center, or if the man-boy-love society (whatever it’s called) decided to privately fund a statue at Alki Playground. This project is on PUBLIC land, not private land. It will also be up to the city to maintain the property after it’s done. The city also has an interest in what kinds of activities the project will attract. For example, a lit plaza will be a beacon for skateboarders at night. There are many considerations other than funding, and I would expect the city to be heavily involved. It would be remiss of them not to be.

  • Libby Carr July 14, 2007 (10:53 am)

    I couldn’t agree more with the above writer who thinks it is very important that private citizens cannot just put anything they want into our public spaces. Yes, it is absolutely vital that our public spaces have some sort of review and input process before changes are actually made. Very important.

    And, if there were ever a project that qualifies for having coorperated with the public input process, it is certainly this one!

    As we all know, this project is not about putting up a new image of some sort. It is one that is already quite familiar to us all (hardly in the same categories sited by the previous writer) but in fact, is an exact replica of the Statue of Liberty that was there before and put up by the Boy Scouts in 1952 as other scout troops did in 200 locations across the country with these “Little Sisters of Liberty.” The story of these other statues is very inspiring and can be seen at

    At any rate, my point is that this whole project at Alki Beach, including the building of a new plaza and new pedestal which would hold the newly recast statue, has already enjoyed countless hours of meetings with the parks department staff as well as meetings with the public to receive their ideas and feedback about the design. In this whole process, I had never heard anyone propose the idea that the newly cast statue should be put up on the old base. The idea of raising funds for a new statue was always with a newly designed and updated plaza as part of the whole plan, not just half a plan.

    I think we are at a crossroads and we need to realize the larger vision here in that this is a golden opportunity for the City and the Community to come together and create a revitalized home for our Lady of Liberty that can serve not only as a beautiful revitalized area to perhaps the most visited public park in Seattle, but also have the chance to inspire the revitalization of all the other “Little Sisters of Liberty” in other public spaces across the country. Let’s not pass up this wonderful opportunity we have here to create a beautiful space. Thanks — Libby Carr

  • Peggy July 14, 2007 (1:13 pm)

    This is a really nice project being created with the help of the City of Seattle Parks Department and many volunteers! I am really happy the city and the community have come together to create not only a nice space for the recast Statue of Liberty, long resting on Alki beach, but that we will also have a nice opportunity for a really great celebration for reseating the statue and re-consecrating the whole new space.

    It should be a great time for the whole neighborhood to come together and feel good as a community project. We seldom have such a good adventure to community build.

    I am looking forward to the upcoming events there! Even fund raising will be a good time to bring the neighborhood together and give more of us a sense of ownership and participation. The more everyone participates the stronger the community bonds will become.

  • Jo July 14, 2007 (1:45 pm)

    I love the new design. It’s beautiful.
    Two years ago I voted in favor of the new design. At that time there was no indication that we would be without a statue (new or old) for 2+ years.
    I bought two tiles after those meetings. I wasn’t the only one who bought tiles.
    During this time the community (me included) was remiss in not asking for a financial accounting on where we were on the fund-raising efforts; i.e., how much did the statue recasting cost? Where did the money come from? How much money came in for engraved tiles and was tile money used in paying for the statue? How much money is left, if any? Where is it? etc.etc.
    The new committee has done an excellent job in rallying the forces. I applaud them.
    However, I don’t appreciate the attitude that we are not to ask questions, that politics or a personal agenda are involved if we do, that the city is ‘taking over’ the project.
    Where is the old statue and can we get her back? Maybe put her back up on the old base until funds are raised? After funds are raised how long will construction take? Remember, we will be without statue during this time. Can the new statue be brought up and maybe displayed in the bathhouse or Log House Museum until time project is finished?
    I don’t know who’s going to answer these questions, but I do feel they need to be considered. Thanks.

  • Dis July 14, 2007 (3:21 pm)

    The original project was publicized as costing $54,000, which included recasting, creating the plaza, adding personalized bricks, and maintaining the statue (for how long?). I’m curious whether the City has approved the current scope of the project. Has the project been approved by the City? Has this newly-estimated project cost of $180,000 (?) been approved by the City? There seems to be a communication gap somewhere, and it simply seems to be a matter of getting everyone on the same page. Another question: are donations tax-deductible? and who is the nonprofit that’s overseeing it? At some point, as the previous poster mentioned, the community (and the City I would guess) needs answers to the question of accountability for previous funds collected, but that’s not an issue addressed to the nice people who stepped up to take on the project. It’s a logical question.

  • Michelle July 19, 2007 (2:04 pm)

    I am saddened by these comments. The story of Libby and Paul Carr (warm, welcoming and loved Alki beach resident) taking their own time and resources to bring people together to create a wonderful piece of art for the entire city to enjoy for a long time to come. And it’s not just art – it is our country’s very own symbol of welcome to the immigrants who are now Americans. My grandfather, who came from Guatemala, passed through Ellis Island. From the many languages I hear as I walk the beach, I know that we have many residents who have a similar story. West Seattle, an international community, is the perfect place for this symbol. I’m pretty nuts and bolts when it comes to planning and Paul and Libby have a plan. Not only a solid plan but sincere love for Alki and the community. Is Pam from the Parks Department from our community?

Sorry, comment time is over.