By Aileen M. Langhans
Just recently, I worked toward obtaining the truth about the fate of the Everett Centennial Brick Tribute, formerly in front of the Everett Performing Arts Center. The Herald published a wonderful piece about the demolition of these supposedly permanent bricks, which represented donations to the Everett’s Centennial Celebrations in 1993. Thank you very much for the coverage, especially after the city officials knowingly mislead your reporter in October, when she was provided a tour of the site and no one even mentioned the loss of the brick path.
Obviously, the city, which had a two-year warning that the bricks were incompatible with the plaza design, did not want any public knowledge of or input into their decision to prioritize the plaza layout over the past promises to the community. (And, by the way, I am very supportive of the plaza.) They may state that the Brick Campaign was not an official city project, but each donor did receive a certificate, signed by Mayor Pete Kinch, stating that the bricks were “permanently installed in the Community Theatre Plaza.” Furthermore, the certificate displays the official city seal. And, once the mayor signed the certificate, the city became involved, maybe not legally, but in the minds of donors like me.
I have sent emails to several people in the city: They have either not been answered at all or they have made unfulfilled promises to provide me with more information. And because of this silence, I spoke out before the City Council on Nov 14. After my presentation, a weak response was forthcoming, as city officials tried to convince the room about their sincerity in seeking a solution to the dilemma: how to honor the brick donors within the parameters of the new Everett plaza development. And, yet they seemed to miss the entire point of my argument. I was not implying that the bricks could be saved (I am not knowledgeable enough for that decision), but I was discussing the poor approach taken by the city throughout the two years in which they foresaw the inevitable day in which the bricks would have to go. Simply, the city failed to answer the following:
1. Why didn’t they use a variety of media to locate the donors and/or donor list, such as Channel 21, the city website, KSER, the Herald, etc.?
2. Why didn’t they at least have an announcement in the newspaper and on their website at the time the bricks were actually being removed?
3. Why didn’t they discuss the brick removal with the Herald reporter during her personal tour of the new plaza?
4. Why didn’t they state that the donors will now be involved, going forward, with any replacement options and with the future grand opening of the new tribute?
5. Is the city going to send any formal letter to the donors, now that they have access to the list?
6. Why was I told that the city website had several “press releases” on the issue, when in fact there were no such releases? And thereafter, one city official said, “I guess I didn’t get around to them.” The only notice to the public was a cryptic memo given to the Performing Arts box office.
7. Why were they hiding the actual demolition activity, performing the deed in secrecy and behind a construction fence?
Inquiring minds are still waiting for more answers.
Aileen M. Langhans lives in North Everett.