Mayor Greg Nickels appeared to back away slightly today from a threat to "demolish and dispose" of the historic schooner Wawona
, though a spokeswoman for his office said the Parks Department has "serious reservations" about a proposal to display the vessel whole on land at South Lake Union Park
. The statements were made before Seattle City Councilmember Peter Steinbrueck
's Urban Development & Planning Committee. (Video is available here
Mayoral spokeswoman Emily East, making her first appearance before a council committee, said she knew few details about the Wawona issue. But she said the mayor had not "formally" changed his position in a letter last month that said he was considering demolition and disposal of the city and national landmark, if the ship was not moved from SLUP by September 30. However, she noted that the mayor's office is in ongoing discussions with Wawona's owner, Northwest Seaport
, and its partner, the Museum of History & Industry
, on options for the ship, implying the talks could lead to a settlement that excluded destruction of the ship.
During the meeting, Steinbrueck cited city historic preservation ordinances which require the entire vessel be preserved, not pieces. Parks Superintendent Ken Bounds has suggested pieces of Wawona be preserved at SLUP, not the whole artifact. East said the Parks Department believes the entire ship may be too big for SLUP.
Representatives of NWS and MOHAI met yesterday with Bounds and Deputy Mayor Tim Ceis to discuss a proposal for turning Wawona into a land-based display. A person familiar with the meeting said it was "positive" and that "small steps forward" were made. The parties are scheduled to meet again on Monday.
More than two dozen supporters of Seattle's maritime heritage attended Steinbrueck's committee meeting, which included coucilmembers Richard Conlin and Tom Rasmussen. Rasmussen said he preferred a water-based display, rather than land-based. During the public comment period, several long-time volunteers spoke in support of Wawona's preservation. The speakers included historic preservation activist Kay Bullitt, who helped purchase the ship for Seattle in 1964. Karen Gordon, the city's historic preservation program manager, also detailed the ship's significance and the ordinances that protect her.
Comments on the meeting, whether or not you attended, are welcome.