GEORGETOWN — City Council is considering a project to bring bronze replica displays of the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights and the Constitution to a city park.
Mike Unruh, of Foundation Forward, the Valdese, N.C.-based nonprofit behind the Charters of Freedom program, spoke to the council at an Aug. 25 meeting about the group’s goal is to place a Charters of Freedom setting in every county in the United States.
The idea for the Charters of Freedom program, Unruh said, came about when Foundation Forward founders Vance and Mary Jo Patterson of Morganton, N.C., were deeply moved by the sight of the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights and the Constitution on a 2011 trip to the National Archives Museum in Washington, D.C.
“They asked each other, ‘Why is it that we’re in our 60s and this is the first time that we’re seeing these documents?'” Unruh said. “And in their entire trip back home to North Carolina they were talking about how many people across the country never get a chance to see these firsthand.'”
From there, the Charters of Freedom program took form.
Unruh told Georgetown Times that 41 settings have been dedicated so far and 57 more are currently in progress.
The Charters of Freedom website lists settings in Alabama, Alaska, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, South Dakota and Virginia, plus a setting at the Richland County Administration Building in Columbia.
The website further lists settings in Conway and Myrtle Beach as being in the works.
In addition to the pedestals that display the four pages of the Constitution and the single pages of the Bill of Rights and Declaration of Independence, Unruh said future settings will include replicas of constitutional amendments related to civil rights.
Unruh told the council he originally approached Georgetown County Council about the project and was referred to the city. A survey of Georgetown turned up Joseph Rainey Park as a potential location.
No cost for construction would fall to city taxpayers, Unruh said, except for future maintenance and sidewalk leading up to the setting itself.
He said an average brick setting costs $28,000, with funds raised through the Charters of Freedom website, and noted that some settings have been fully funded through donations.
Unruh added that the settings are built to last 300 to 500 years, and include time capsules to be opened on Sept. 17, 2087 — the 300th anniversary of the signing of the Constitution.
Councilman Jim Clements questioned the proposed location of the setting, noting that Joseph Rainey Park represents downtown Georgetown’s small sum of green space.
“We have small little pocket parks; we have very little grass downtown,” Clements said. “Rainey Park is the one exception where we have a little bit of green space, and a beautiful view of that fountain. And my blood bleeds red, white and blue with the next guy, but I have a strong exception to tying up the one decent little park we have with a couple thousand square feet of impervious area.”
Unruh said the minimum footprint of a setting would be 12 feet deep by 28 feet wide.
No action was taken on the matter Aug. 25, so no specific location is currently set in stone.
Mayor Carol Jayroe said the city will continue searching for a location the council can come to an agreement on.
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