As first reported here yesterday afternoon, city Parks Department reps have met with “stakeholders” in the project to build a new plaza for the Alki Statue of Liberty. Major developments from that meeting included a new, longer timeline for the plaza, some design revisions, and another round of public involvement in the process, including an expected public meeting in April. In the day since the meeting, we’ve gathered more reaction and further details on what happens next, starting with a detailed update — and call for action — from Seattle Statue of Liberty Plaza Project co-chairs Libby and Paul Carr:
We (the Seattle Statue of Liberty Plaza Project) officially met with the new Project Planner, Lynn Sullivan, for the first time yesterday. It was a â€œget acquaintedâ€ meeting for the Parks people, not a design meeting. What became apparent early was that the new set of Parks personnel involved with this process still had some misconceptions about how far along the design process had already come within their own department. Apparently, they need some improvement in their own lines of communication.
That said, we were pleased Lynn Sullivan appears very committed to finishing this project in this year. She was apparently unaware of the reality of some of the promises the City made to us when they imposed the Jan. 15 deadline. It was based on statements made by Parks that if we wanted it done by July, we had to have our money in by Jan. 15th. We did our partâ€”we expect them to do their darndest to do theirs.
While we know they have to go through certain processes, including final design review and (apparently) one more public meeting, advertising for bids, awarding of contracts, etc. we still believe they can speed up this process considerably from the estimated October date, if they choose to do so. By the end of the meeting, Parks personnel seemed to be open to trying to collapse their internal process as much as possible, as well. The plan is to meet again after much of this process has been reviewed to see what is still needed.
We hope Parks schedules the public meeting as soon as possible, so that all you people who showed up last time on September 13, 2007, demanding that Parks â€œjust get on with itâ€ can have one more whack at telling the powers that be enough is really enough. If we need some bench backs, fine â€” letâ€™s design them in and get on with it. Ditto any other minor concerns.
The blunt fact is this overall design has had overwhelming community support for over two years now, and it obviously shows no signs of abating. The latest fundraising effort proves that.
Speaking of fundraising: Thank you all so much for your e-mails and phone calls of encouragement and support during this campaign. They are what kept us going sometimes. But we would like to remind some of the folks who have said such nice things about us that the main reason this effort has been so successful is because itâ€™s the Statue of Liberty. We need to remember that.
We are divided in this country, and in this community, on many issues. There are also those ready to whine about everything, and they are all too often loudest and quickest to complain, without adequately checking the facts. But virtually everyone loves the Statue of Liberty, and each of us has a story about what the statue here at Alki means to us. It is for that reason, primarily, that this plaza will be constructed. Our job, as citizens, is simply to make sure Parks understands that the â€œfiddling phaseâ€ needs to be over, and the â€œgetting it doneâ€ phase needs to begin in earnest.
Can we get it done by July? Maybe not, but Iâ€™d like to see Parks try to get as close to that deadline as is humanly possible. If you wish to encourage this effort, please let the Project Manager know you care. You can e-mail her: email@example.com – In the meantime, we will keep selling bricks, as a convenience for those who want them, until a construction planning process stops us. Pray that will be soon.
Paul & Libby Carr, Co-Chairs,
Seattle Statue of Liberty Plaza Project
Now, the follow-up questions we asked project planner Lynn Sullivan, who responded last night. First, we asked how much would be involved in the “schematic refinement” — design revision — and when new drawings would be available. Her answer:
The design still needs to be approved by ProView — an internal Project Review
Committee within Parks. There isn’t as much refinement as I originally thought: As I was assuming management of the project, I kept hearing about “benches” being sold so I thought we needed to incorporate those benches into the design. In reality, portions of the seat wall (which is in the original concept) were being sold — and referred to as benches. Typically we present revised designs at community meetings. The next community meeting will likely be held in April.
We also asked if the projected timetable presented at yesterday’s meeting — anticipating construction beginning in mid-September and ending in late October, a dramatic divergence from the SSLPP hopes for spring construction and 7/4 dedication — was likely to change much in either direction — sped up (as the Carrs hope) or pushed back. Her reply:
I very recently prepared a project schedule based on my experience. There are any number of variables that we can speculate on that might impact that schedule but there is no point to that. Parks will make every attempt to get this project constructed as soon as possible.
Others in attendance at yesterday’s meeting included other city reps as well as project planner Sullivan, original plaza architect/designers Matt Hutchins and Chris Ezzell, landscape architect Terry Reckord, Jack Tomkinson from Urban Sparks — the nonprofit group that the Plaza Project had partnered with — Jane Conrad from the Southwest Seattle Historical Society, and Alki resident Jo Ofsthus, who had led the “Bring Miss Liberty Home Now” effort to accelerate the return of the recast statue prior to plaza construction (which as you’ll recall did happen with the unveiling ceremony 9/11/07; that and all previous WSB coverage of the Statue of Liberty is archived here).