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Published: Friday, 7/28/2006

Perry site may reopen next month

PUT-IN-BAY, Ohio - The closed Perry's Victory & International Peace Memorial has been given the green light to reopen once a series of safety measures are implemented, the monument's superintendent said yesterday.

The announcement follows an assessment Wednesday by Vertical Access, an engineering firm, and Quinn Evans, an architectural firm, of the monument's fascia stones.

The column, completed in 1915 and dedicated to Comm. Oliver Hazard Perry's 1813 victory over the British in the Battle of Lake Erie, was closed June 22 after a 500-pound piece of granite fascia fell from the 317-foot level, crashing onto the plaza.

Superintendent Andy Ferguson said the precautions could be in place next month.

"I am guardedly hopeful that within two weeks we may be able to reopen the monument column. I feel very confident of being open for our Historic Weekend [Sept. 9-10]."

Mr. Ferguson said the consensus of the inspection team was that limited public access to the column's north door presented no hazard to visitors.

The safety conditions include a chain-link fence around the upper plaza and a confined walkway leading directly to the north door, protected by wooden side panels.

Mr. Ferguson said the panels are to protect visitors "from the unlikely event of ricocheting debris resulting for the failure of other fascia stone fragments."

In the meantime, the visitors' center is open and other park events and demonstrations are continuing as scheduled. The monument and grounds are operated by the National Park Service.

The assessment of the parapet also discovered that other fascia stones are loose and will need stabilization. The most hazardous stones are on the southwest side and the farthest from the planned public access.

Engineers determined there was no risk to the public, once inside the column or on the observation deck, Mr. Ferguson said.

"We hope to have our visitors back up on the observation deck of Perry's Monument just as soon as we can," Mr. Ferguson said in his statement. "The view is just outstanding. But, we have to put the necessary safety precautions in place first."

Once the fascia stones are stabilized, a comprehensive assessment of the entire monument is planned to prepare for necessary mortar replacement and other repairs.

Mr. Ferguson cited a sense of urgency to see all of this accomplished in time for the bicentennial events surrounding the War of 1812 and the Battle of Lake Erie.



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