Arcata Poised to OK Relocating McKinley. The Question is, Where?


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Arcata City Council poised to OK McKinley relocation Wednesday. - FILE
  • File
  • Arcata City Council poised to OK McKinley relocation Wednesday.
The Arcata City Council is poised Wednesday to take a big step toward ridding the the city’s center of the statue of President William McKinley, where it has stood for more than a century.

Earlier this week, the city’s planning commission voted unanimously to recommend that the council certify an environmental impact report on the removal project, make necessary general plan amendments and find that there are “social concerns” that override the need to maintain the Arcata Plaza’s historic nature. On Wednesday, staff is recommending the city council approve the environmental review, approve the relocation and give some guidance as to just where McKinley will go.

There appear to be a number of options for the statue, which was unveiled on the plaza in 1906 but has become — in the eyes of some — a symbol of American imperialism and the suffering inflicted on native people throughout the world, prompting the council to vote last year to remove it. The environmental review document proposes the statue be moved to a city storage facility but the council can choose to modify that.

According to a staff report for Wednesday’s meeting, a local Arcata resident has offered to pay the costs of relocating it to one of several “private sites in the area” or assist with relocation costs if a public viewing site is identified within the city.

The report also indicates the owner of Fountainhead Auto Museum/Wedgewood Resort in Fairbanks, Alaska, whose wife grew up in Arcata, has offered to pay to have the statue relocated north to his resort and wildlife refuge, which has “many vintage artifacts.” An anonymous donor on the East Coast has also offered to pay to ship McKinley east to join a private collection of works by the statue’s sculptor, Haig Patigian, or “other pieces from the McKinley presidency.”

Lastly, the report states the city of Canton, Ohio, home to McKinley’s memorial and presidential library, has apparently formed a working group to request that the statue be relocated there, where they have several locations in mind.

“They have agreed to pay all relocation costs to Canton and to assist the city with at least a portion of the costs incurred to date,” the staff report states, adding that the city has spent about $15,000 so far on the effort, with another possible $15,000 in removal and storage costs expected.

The staff report urges the council to consider whether it wants the statue to land somewhere it will be on public display, whether it wants it to be kept locally and how much of the associated costs it would like another entity to take on.

In other matters, the council will consider appointing up to seven people to the city’s Public Safety Committee and nominating a council member to be considered by Gov. Gavin Newsom for appointment to the California Coastal Commission seat being vacated by former Fifth District Humboldt County Supervisor Ryan Sundberg, who was voted out of office in June.

The meeting begins at 6 p.m. in Arcata City Council Chamber, 736 F St. and can be live streamed on the city's website


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