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No One Sits on Fence in Barrier Dispute

Security: State leaders want to encircle Capitol building and six square blocks. Critics fear project would be unfaithful to original design and ruin the feeling of openness.

August 03, 1997|CARL INGRAM | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Beard said it is undecided whether the original pillars might be reclaimed for the new fence but ruled out trying to replicate the other costly historic decorations. For instance, spear-like tips on the metal bars will not be allowed because they could endanger visitors and potentially "be used as weapons," he said.

Beard said options to a fence were considered and discarded. One vehicle barrier would have involved arranging large blocks of granite in a sweeping formation that resembled tombstones.

But some preservation activists and Sacramento historical officials are steamed about the fence proposal. They complain that they were left out of the state's decision-making process, were surprised to only recently learn of the fence and still haven't been fully consulted.

One critic, Assemblywoman Deborah Ortiz (D-Sacramento), challenged both the wisdom of constructing a fence as a security enhancement and the haste to proceed without seeking local points of view. "It's a bit unnecessary," she said of the fence.

Raymond Girvigian of South Pasadena, chairman of the Historic State Capitol Commission, which supervised the successful restoration of the Capitol in the 1970s and '80s, said he believes security goals can be accomplished but that any fence "must be historically correct."

Kathleen Green, a Sacramento preservation activist and member of the state commission, insisted that re-creating the original fence is a higher priority than the extra security a modern fence would provide. "They either put the original back, or we are going to have some real arguments here."

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