EVERETT — Oh say, can you see? Not at Harborview Park.
That could change if Niles Fowler can convince city leaders to install a very visible 80-foot-tall flagpole to fly a giant-sized version of Old Glory.
Neighbors and the parks department have mixed feelings about Fowler’s supersized show of patriotism.
He says a new American flag landmark, which would be illuminated at night, would be a good way to pay tribute to those serving at Naval Station Everett.
“It’s important that the sailors who are shipping out can see this,” Fowler said. “It would also be a nice display on Mukilteo Boulevard as people are driving by.”
It would carry out the wishes of the late Bill Moore, a former mayor and decorated World War II veteran, he said.
Fowler, 59, is a real estate agent and owner of a mail-order flag and flagpole company.
He is a national director for the Navy League of the United States, a nonprofit group that promotes the Navy’s mission and offers support to sailors and their families.
Earlier this year, he sent a letter to Everett Mayor Ray Stephanson describing his idea.
His company, Flags and Flag Poles Northwest, is offering to donate a 20-by-30 nylon flag and sell the city the aluminum flag pole at cost.
Parks officials say the flag is too big for the popular park that offers stunning views of Port Gardner, Hat Island and Mount Baker.
“As with any type of project, we want to make sure that it fits within the scale and the character of a neighborhood,” Everett spokeswoman Kate Reardon said.
Some residents near the park did not respond favorably to a photo illustration showing the proposed flag, a parks official said.
A scaled-back version was more appropriate, the parks official suggested.
Terry Walker, Fowler’s friend, fellow Navy League member and flag enthusiast, scoffed.
“The (USS Abraham) Lincoln would run aground before the sailors could see it,” said the 67-year-old Army veteran. “(The proposed flag) would certainly be a prominent feature in the park, but I don’t think it would be an overwhelming feature.”
With 6,000 employees, the U.S. Navy is the second largest employer in Snohomish County after Boeing, which employs about 30,000 people.
It pumps more than $400 million every year into the economy, according to government estimates, and it ought to be honored by the city with a monument such as the giant flag, Walker said.
Fowler and Walker are offering to donate and raise much of the $20,000 they figure the project would cost.
They also hope to gain support from the Harborview-Seahurst-Glenhaven Neighborhood Association and plan to apply for competitive city grant funding offered every year for neighborhood improvement projects.
Jean Lilley, a longtime member of the neighborhood association, said no one objected to the proposal when it was floated before the group last month.
“I thought the other flagpole was fine, but if somebody wants to privately finance it, it doesn’t bother me,” she said. “I don’t think it would negatively impact anybody’s view.”
Tom Norcott, association chairman, said the old flagpole, a converted streetlight, needs to be replaced. Still, he does take issue with the size of the proposed replacement.
“That seems like overkill to me,” he said. “If it was scaled backed it would be just fine.”
Moore served as mayor for 12 years from 1977 to 1990. He worked toward securing a Navy homeport for Everett.
Moore earned a Silver Star for valor as a tank commander in Europe during World War II. He wanted people who lived on the water near Mukilteo Boulevard to fly American flags to show their support for the Navy, Fowler said.
In the late 1980s, Moore asked Fowler to take a survey of flags visible from the water. Fowler, who was on the city parks board, brought a parks official onto his 30-foot cruiser. The pair counted only a handful of visible flags.
Reporter David Chircop: 425-339-3429 or email@example.com.