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Thursday, June 22, 2006

Nickels on Wawona: "Not Beautiful"


As a public service for those on dialup connections or who are otherwise having trouble with online video, here's a transcript of Mayor Greg Nickels' Q/A last week on the Seattle Channel speaking about Wawona.

Question: The Wawona down at South Lake Union Park. That's the subject of this next e-mailer, Daniella. I heard at Folklife that the beautiful old schooner, the Wawona, was considered an eyesore by the city and was in danger of being disassembled and removed from South Lake Union [Park]. Please do your part to save this essential part of our history for this generation and for future ones.

Nickels: This is Danielia? [Daniella.] I'm not going to be able to give her good news. The Wawona, which is a historic ship, unfortunately, is not beautiful. And it's not safe. It has been tied up at South Lake Union for many, many, many years. There's a non-profit organization that has worked very hard to restore it. They haven't been able to raise anything near the kind of money to be able to keep it safe and very frankly, unless they're able to come up with that money very soon, just out of concern of safety...we've already had them take the masts off, because a study showed that those were in real danger of potentially coming down and hurting people. So we're not looking for that to be a permanent part of the park unless its restored, and given the last 2o years of experience, we don't think that they're going to have the capacity to restore it.

The "study" he's referring to is the "Wawona Summit" report (summarized here), commissioned last December by Northwest Seaport, Wawona's owner. A panel of nationally recognized experts recommended that the masts come down as a safety precaution, a recommendation which was followed within weeks. The panel also recommended a three-step approach to saving the vessel: immediate stabilization, intermediate preservation on land undercover, and the development of a long-term plan for ultimate preservation and interpretation. (A second panel of local experts was split on options for Wawona.)

Photos of Wawona's current condition are on the Seattle Times website.

What do you think? Is Wawona "not beautiful?" Does its physical beauty matter? What about safety? Is it still unsafe, even though the masts are down and no one is allowed on board? Click the comments link below to express your view.

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