Thursday, Jun 30, 2016
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Monument remains shut pending study

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An engineering study has been planned after a nearly 500-pound chunk of granite fell from the memorial last month.

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PUT-IN-BAY, Ohio - The landmark Perry's Victory and International Peace Memorial, which was closed last month when a chunk of granite fell to the plaza, will remain off-limits to visitors until a detailed engineering study can be completed, the monument's superintendent said yesterday.

Park Superintendent Andy Ferguson said an initial report last week determined the 352-foot Greek Doric column should remain shut until a further evaluation is performed.

Today's naturalization ceremony will be held near the visitors' center, which is south of the monument and away from any fall zones.

A nearly 500-pound chunk of granite broke off from the southeast face of the memorial's observation deck the night of June 22 and fell to the plaza below. The impact created a

2 1/2-foot-wide crater, startling a woman who was sitting on a bench nearby.

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The 500-pound piece of granite fell more than 300 feet from the facing of the observation deck, toward the upper left corner above, and left a 2 -foot crater in the plaza.

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The engineering study will entail having an engineer rappel off the side to examine the fissure up close, Mr. Ferguson said.

"They're not going to get me to do it," he joked. "And I'll do nearly anything for the monument."

One option under consideration if the closing is extended would be to build a reinforced tunnel to the base that would protect visitors as they go to the elevator, which takes visitors to the observation platform.

"There's no risk on the top," he said. "It's just getting people to the door."

Maggie Beckford, executive director of the Put-in-Bay Chamber of Commerce, said the memorial, visible from the lake and mainland, is intertwined with the island's identity.

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A naturalization ceremony will be today at the visitors' center south of the memorial.

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"It's very important to us. It's not just for the tourists. It's what it stands for," she said. "This is our showcase, it's our jewel."

The Peace Memorial was opened in 1915 to commemorate Comm. Oliver Hazard Perry's victory over the British in the Battle of Lake Erie. It also celebrates the peace between the United States and Canada.

The monument, however, is in need of tuck-pointing, when the joints of the stone face are replaced with new mortar.

"Monuments have to be taken care of as they get older," Mr. Ferguson said.

"There are places where [the stone's mortar] has failed and water has infiltrated into the monument," he said.

A project of that nature could cost an estimated $5 million and would require scaffolding to provide access to the structure's exterior.

The monument was closed between 1980-82 for major renovation. In 2002, a visitor's center was opened.

Money for the repairs and any other major projects will have to come from supplemental funds because the annual budget for the Perry monument stands at $1,013,795.

Long-term repairs are pressing because of a series of upcoming bicentennial events that will focus on the monument.

The bicentennial of the War of 1812 is just six years away; one year after that is the bicentennial of the Battle of Lake Erie.

According to the Chamber of Commerce, about 200,000 people visit the memorial each year.

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