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Source: The News Tribune
Date: October 15, 2011
Byline: Christian Hill

University Place official wants flag to fly at library

A University Place city councilman is pushing for the American flag to be flown in front of the new civic and library building as soon as possible. But some of his colleagues prefer to wait until city offices move in, possibly years down the road.

Councilman Javier Figueroa said federal flag code requires the American flag “be displayed daily on or near the main administration building of every public institution.” He contends the building became a public institution when the University Place Pierce County Library opened in February.

Figueroa has requested that the city pay for a flag display from money set aside for tenant and other improvements to attract developers to Town Center. The first-term councilman got an initial, very rough estimate of $4,000 to $5,000 to have it installed.

“It’s not like it’s a big-ticket item, but it’s an important one,” said Figueroa, an Army veteran who served in Vietnam.

At least two other council members say it makes more sense to wait until city offices move into the oft-delayed mixed-use development on Bridgeport Way.

The debate has prompted City Manager Steve Sugg to gather information about options for the council’s Nov. 12 study session.

The U.S. and Washington state flags now fly in front of City Hall, located in the former Windmill Village shopping center. The city intends to move its offices when the City Hall lot is sold for development as part of the Town Center project. It’s unknown when that will occur.

Plans call for the flags to move at the same time.

Mayor Debbie Klosowski said adding an American flag at the civic building early is a wonderful idea, but she questions how to pay for it.

“We’re going to experience many requests and uses for those dollars for the Town Center project,” she said. “I see those as set for that particular use.”

Councilman Eric Choiniere also favored waiting. He said his father, a Vietnam veteran and mayor of Westfir, Ore., recommended waiting when Choiniere mentioned the issue.

“It doesn’t make sense to have the poles moved while we’re still occupying (the current city hall),” Choiniere said.

Councilman Ken Grassi, for one, agrees with Figueroa. Grassi said he’s in favor of flying the flag in front of the civic and library building sooner rather than later because there’s no set time for when city offices will move.

“It could be two, three or four years, and that’s too long, I think,” he said.

The mayor noted an American flag is flown at the West Pierce Fire & Rescue headquarters, behind the civic building and near City Hall. Mary Getchell, spokeswoman for the Pierce County Library System, said it doesn’t fly the flag outside any of its branches but does display it in all libraries with public meeting rooms, including University Place.

Getchell said the library system had concerns about maintaining the flags and meeting all requirements of state and federal law.

Sugg said there have been no decisions made on where the flags will be installed at the civic building or details of their eventual move.

He expects council members would want to get public comment on the issue.

“We wouldn’t just go out to the local supply house and order a pole and stick it in the ground somewhere,” he said.

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