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In our opinion: 9/11, back to work
The rush and pressure to properly remember is now past, but a question remains; what will the final Kitsap 9/11 Memorial look like?
At this point, no one can say.
Sunday saw a “ceremonial” ground breaking and celebration, at the proposed site of a 2-acre memorial in Bremerton’s Evergreen Park, with craft booths, bands and barbecue, commemorated the 10th anniversary of the al-Qaida attack in New York, Washington D.C. and Pennsylvania that spurred 10 years of war, which grew to encompass two fronts.
Last May when the Kitsap 9/11 Memorial Design Committee presented its initial designs to the Bremerton Parks Commission, it was lambasted as too grandiose, perhaps intimidating in its New York-centered narrative for the general public and lacking any connection to the 9/11 experience in Kitsap County.
It is, however, exactly what a local fire commissioner wanted to remember.
At the time, the 9/11 design committee was rushing to get the plans approved before the 10th anniversary so that a ground breaking could be held on Sunday.
We support the city council’s move to put plans back under the purview of the parks commission, to solve that disconnect. To that end, an agreement was written and signed that called for more public involvement in the design.
The first of three public events was held over four hours on Aug. 24.
Two more public sessions were to follow. Also to have happened, according to the signed agreement between the city and the design committee, was a new design incorporating public input and concern and cost estimates to be forwarded to city council by Sept. 1.
Neither have yet happened.
Dave Fergus, the memorial designer and Central Kitsap Fire Commissioner, has publicly said that little or no work has been done to change the original design.
One perspective being forwarded by Fergus and Parks Director Wyn Birkenthal, charged with guiding the design through the public process until it returns to city council, is that much of the focus since the agreement was signed was spent on the ceremonial ground breaking celebration and with that out of the way, time is now being taken to include the public with the next level of design.
No hurry now.
There is a second possibility as well.
After facing criticism from the parks commission during that May meeting, Jerry McDonald, a former airline pilot stood in a circle with the design committee and offered the idea to let the public and the parks commission offer what ideas they will, but in the end do what “we” want anyway. Laughter by all followed.
We encourage the design committee to move as far as possible from that kind of thought and respect the wishes of the community that will see the memorial daily in their neighborhood and through visits to the park.
The design committee and parks should return to the business of planning as soon as possible, including public participation and review.