Martin Luther King Task Force Searches for Site for Memorial


Regina Phillips, at the King Task Force Meeting at City Hall Late This Afternoon.

Jonathan Cox,  Chairman of The Federated Companies, Florida.

City Councilor and Chair of the Task Force Pious Ali on Right.

“We have the option of several places on which to place a memorial, but they have challenges,” said Regina Phillips, late this afternoon at the King Task Force meeting at city hall.  The Task Force has been meeting for a year and charged with making a recommendation to the Sustainability and Transportation Committee on a site where a memorial to the late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King could be placed.  The Task Force is chaired by City Councilor Pious Ali.

Tomorrow, Wednesday, April 4th marks the 50th anniversary of the assassination  of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King.  He was killed at the Lorraine Motel, Memphis,  while standing on its balcony.  The Motel fell into disrepair thereafter according to an-depth article in “The New York Times,” on April 1, 2018 – until 1991.  But then it was salvaged and converted into the National Civil Rights Museum – with special attractions opening tomorrow – the 50th anniversary of Dr. King’s assassination.

Criteria adopted by the Task Force for the location of the memorial to Dr. King included a gateway to the city and a place to congregate for reflection.  The Task Force has until    the end of May 2018 to make its site recommendation to the Sustainability Committee.

With those criteria in mind, Phillips suggested the space behind Planet Dog on the Bayside Trail – a site not heretofore on the consideration list.  There appears to be no challenges on this location as there were for Portland Landing and Congress Square Park.  Portland Landing, formerly Amethyst Park, is to be dedicated to fishermen and Congress Square Park has retained an out-of-state artist whose work is already well underway.

The site on the Bayside Trail suggested by Phillips was formerly to have been the location of seating arrangements overseen by the Portland Public Arts Committee. This was five years ago in 2013. However, after much deliberation, the plan for “swirl” seats was scrapped by the  Arts Committee because of the doubling of the cost by the Washington charged with the project. The company found it necessary to produce the swirl seats overseas adding significantly to the cost of their production that was not anticipated by the parties.

At the time, it was hoped that the swirl seats would be an asset to the massive Midtown project, to be built by Jonathan Cox, of Federated Cos.   Consequently, increasing the use of the Bayside Trail would prove that the city’s decision to support the Trail was the right decision according to a former supervisor of the city’s planning department  – Alex Jaegerman.   However, the recent collapse of the Midtown project and developer Jonathan Cox’s threat to sue the city could prevent the Bayside Trail from being utilized as fully as had been expected.  Patrick Venne, a consultant, is also an attorney retained by Cox. (See above right photo of Jonathan Cox, of Federated Cos., Florida.)

The next meeting of the King Task Force will be on April 23 at 4:00 pm at the proposed site behind Planet Dog.  For more information, please contact Troy Moon, at city hall.