More details on Statue of Liberty Plaza Project, post-fundraising

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 “get acquainted” 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 part—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 “just get on with it” can have one more whack at telling the powers that be enough is really enough. If we need some bench backs, fine — let’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 it’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 “fiddling phase” needs to be over, and the “getting it done” phase needs to begin in earnest.

Can we get it done by July? Maybe not, but I’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: – 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).

4 Replies to "More details on Statue of Liberty Plaza Project, post-fundraising"

  • Steveed January 26, 2008 (8:28 pm)

    Every time I see the statue in Alki, I cringe. Even the Paul Bunyan statue in the movie Fargo had a sense of place. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. What makes the statue so great in New York is the location, the grand size and the eloquence of it’s history. You take these away and it’s laughable. I mean really, why would anyone make such a fuss over this mini-me wannabe? Why not make something new? Next there will be a statue of David at Ivars Acres of Clams.

  • acemotel January 26, 2008 (9:34 pm)

    talk about whining! first, the department of neighborhoods and Pamela Klement are disparaged, then the department of parks and project manager. Nothing about this project reflects the principles of respect and cooperation the statue of liberty represents. What’s the point of putting the screws to the project manager and the city, making demand and ultimatums? What is up with that? The fundraising is great, the design team and architects volunteering are great, Jack Tomkinson and his organization is fantastic, but the New York attitude is a total turn-off. Try to play well with others, no one is entitled.

  • Michael January 28, 2008 (5:17 pm)

    Even more disappointing than the artificial “need” for a plaza is the “mandate” the organizers are assuming. They’re “demanding” that Parks “get on with it”?

    Skip the hubris.

    The Alki Statue of Liberty may be my favorite recasting of a mass-produced (around 100 made and donated to various communities by the Boy Scouts) copy of a French statue of a Greek goddess, but let’s just put the thing up and be done with it…oops, it’s already up.

  • goody January 29, 2008 (4:24 pm)

    About a month ago, I was going to answer one of their sanctimonious retorts with this post. Thought better of it but now I see that the machinations of the committee are seen by others. Things have not changed, they are still imperious. Sounds to me like they really don’t have the money-frankly, this has never been my issue. It has always been the high handed, chest beating, flag waving flaggelation of anyone who is not in their camp.

    I could call your response almost holier than thou, sanctimonious drivel or invite you to join me on my side of the fence. I like the old benches with backs, I like the smaller venue. I worry about the expense of keeping up the proposed landscaping and much more. My initial opposition had to do with these things. These are my preferences and I wish to state them-period.
    To date, whenever that opinion or those of others posing queries or dissent has been expressed, a flag waving, liberty and life spouting opposition has been posted. You invite others to join in but not before you tell me of the earnest character of the organizers, castigate and devaluate all those who would have an ounce of caution or criticism-because my personal views started that way. Thanks again for the seemingly hearty all fellows well met invitation to join you–rings a little hollow based on prior actions. Actions, even prior ones speak loudly. There is not unanimous consent or endorsement of this project. I state once again, I am not against the statue, liberty, etc. etc. I prefer a smaller stake, a return of the original position, etc. I am glad something is being done and the statue being restored has been great for everyone. My issues begin with long term maintenance and go on from there.
    The recent use of photos of the statue with the broken arm was a cheap fund raising trick and I was not the only one appalled by that (heard a lively discussion of that at a local coffee shop and it was not pretty). Whether we lived here 35 years or not, community is the group that is here now. The history of West Seattle or any community is not forgotten. However, a community history is rewritten every day and the current constituency is changing, growing, expanding, exploring and evolving. Will you not let us express our views? I have purposely remained on the sidelines because I do not want to get into a bigger fight-just ask that my voice and my comments be heard. I am neither apathetic, against liberty, unpatriotic nor apologetic for my simple nor not singular opinions. It is clear there will be a plaza-hurray for that. I am NOT taking issue with the withheld fiscal issues or the early on lack of disclosure.
    I also hope the Parks Department knows that there are many who are happy the project is being reviewed, monitored, maybe rewritten, etc. Not everyone is definitely not onboard with the “committee”.

Sorry, comment time is over.