A well-meaning proposal to install a flagpole in front of University Place’s civic and library building has turned into a big headache for the City Council.
Nearly a year after Councilman Javier Figueroa floated the idea, city leaders have been unable to decide on the flagpole’s location or how to pay for it. In April, the council decided not to spend thousands of dollars of tax revenue on the project and instead sent it back to a task force for further study.
But time hasn’t provided more clarity. A University Place couple and a civic organization have both offered to contribute money for a flagpole, but they favor different locations, Mayor Ken Grassi said.
The council will revisit the issue Oct. 15.
“We are making a decision on the 15th,” Grassi pledged. “We have to. This has to be settled, and we want (the flagpole) in place before the end of the year – sooner rather than later. The gavel is not going to be banged without a decision.”
The private offers were made while a task force of council and community members was studying the issue.
The University Place Kiwanis offered to pay for a flagpole and flag, but not installation and lighting. The group liked the location in front of the civic and library building and close to Bridgeport Way, Grassi said. A Kiwanis representative hadn’t returned a message seeking comment left Friday.
Meanwhile, Ruthann Reim McCaffree, who served on the task force, and her husband, Jim, have offered to pay for the entire project, which she estimates at $15,000. They favor a location closer to the building.
Reim McCaffree and city arts boosters have raised concerns that installing the flagpole near the street would block the view of the bronze duck sculpture, which honors her former husband, civic booster Terry Reim, who died in 2003.
Reim McCaffree also said the location is unsuitable due to road noise and proximity to moving traffic.
Grassi said that while he appreciates the offers, they pose a challenge for elected leaders.
“We don’t want the decision to be influenced by dollars, that’s the bottom line,” he said. “Although they’re both generous offers, it may be that the city may fund (the project) out of its reserve.”
Figueroa has pushed for a flagpole, citing federal code that requires the American flag be displayed daily on or near the main administration building of public institutions. He says the building met that criteria when the University Place Pierce County Library opened in February 2011.
Some council members want to wait until city offices move into the civic building before erecting the flagpole, although when that move will happen is unknown.
For now, the city displays the U.S. flag inside the email@example.com