McKinley Removal Process Continues Without a Vote


President William McKinley's statue. - FILE
  • File
  • President William McKinley's statue.
The removal of President William McKinley’s statue appears to be back on track.

After nearly four hours of public comment at Wednesday's meeting, Arcata Councilmember Susan Ornelas announced she was rescinding her suggestion to put the question of where the bronze work should stand – with one of the potential options being plaza center – up to an advisory vote.

“At this point, I’m saying let's just continue with what we’re doing and I’m sorry I cost all of this time,” she said.

Ornelas – who brought the agenda item proposal forward at the council’s last meeting – reiterated that her intention was not to attempt a do-over on the council’s controversial 4-1 vote Feb. 21 to take down the sculpture, one of the first major works by renown artist Haig Patigian.

“I was trying to respond to so many who were feeling they wanted to have a say and transfer that to the environmental impact report,” she said, adding that she felt her idea was “twisted in the media.”

Her comments came after more than 100 speakers expressed their views on the issue, with the vast majority calling on the council to stand by the decision it made last month. Mayor Sofia Pereira appealed for decorum several times during the night as audience members called out remarks by speakers and councilmembers during sometimes terse exchanges.

Because McKinley’s statue is listed as a historic feature of the plaza in Arcata’s General Plan, removing the tribute dedicated to the city in 1906 will require a general plan amendment, which entails a lengthy environmental review process.

“I’m looking forward to us moving forward with this,” Pereira told the crowd.

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