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Friday, June 16, 2006

Ceis Uninformed About the Needs, Costs Related to Demolition and Disposal of Wawona

I've had several discussions and e-mails related to my previous post (Wednesday, June 14) on Deputy Mayor Tim Ceis' threat to "demolish and dispose" of Wawona. The Seattle Times ran a story today. It's pretty clear the fellow has no idea what he's talking about. He suggests in his June 8 letter that the city will work with the Museum of History & Industry to develop a plan for removing parts of the vessel for display and dispose of the rest. First, the idea needs careful planning, and he only gives Northwest Seaport four months to do it. This is a 165-foot, 468-ton vessel, and NWS is staffed exclusively by volunteers. They don't have the capacity to create a detailed plan. Does he think MOHAI, neck-deep in its own projects, can come up with a viable plan in 90 days or so?

Second, he probably has no idea how much money such a project would cost. I called a local marine salvage consultant and he says a demolition project such as Ceis describes would cost in the "mid-six figures." And that doesn't include environmental mitigation related to removing tons of wood debris, some of which may be contaminated with lead paint. You can't just dump it into a landfill. And what about permitting? The various agencies with responsibilities for water quality aren't just going to wave their hands and say, "Go ahead." Furthermore, is this a good use of public money, destruction of our country's maritime history and heritage? I think not.

So Ceis' letter makes no sense to me. He's willing to spend maybe a half-million dollars on destroying the vessel, when the same amount of money would do a lot to stablize it and perhaps allow visitors aboard. If he could see past his nose, he would notice that the latter makes him a hero for saving our maritime history, instead of something less.

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