Bakst: No Station memorial after 9 years a failure of leadershipFebruary 20th, 2012 at 10:00 am by Ted Nesi under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site
It was nine years ago today that a fast-moving inferno tore through The Station in West Warwick, killing 100 people and injuring about 200 more. The Station tragedy was one of the worst nightclub fires in American history – yet there is still no permanent memorial on the site of the disaster.
Retired Providence Journal columnist M. Charles Bakst wrote me this morning to express his frustration at the lack of progress:
A story in today’s Providence Journal about the ninth anniversary of The Station fire stirred up an old outrage of mine. Talk of creating a fitting, permanent memorial began in the immediate aftermath of the tragedy and yet for a variety of reasons, including disputes between the landowner and victims’ families, it has yet to happen, and now the 10th anniversary is only a year away.
It has long been my opinion that the failure to establish this memorial is the single, most graphic illustration of Rhode Island’s shortage of political leadership. Some problems – such as making dramatic progress on the economy or achieving long-term budget stability – are massive and more understandably elude dramatic progress. By comparison, creating a fire memorial should be relatively simple. It is a small site and there is a powerful emotional need to get the job done.
And yet we have seen a succession of governors, legislators, and local officials fall short. I don’t know how much they have worked to see that the project gets done – I’m sure some have – and some might argue that creating the memorial is not primarily a function of government. But sometimes public officials need to LEAD to achieve consensus and to see that society meets the challenges that confront it.
The Station memorial presents such a situation. How much longer will Rhode Islanders accept this failure?
(photo: Dave Wiggins/WPRI)