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'Hibernia Beach' perspective
A caveat to this letter is I am not necessarily defending the rather heavy-handed approach to the recent "Hibernia Beach" posting situation by Bank of America ["Mandelman open to landmarking BofA," January 21]. An approach that may have been much different had there been more involvement from local management. Having said that, I am offering another perspective on the entire affair.
During the nearly yearlong closure of this branch, the postings on the building had clearly spiraled out of control and included graffiti, political messages, personal rages, and the covering of an entire window along with the sometimes difficult-to-discern memorials. In addition, a lingering years-old problem has been the lack of maintenance and removal of memorials by those persons who initially posted them once they were past their prime or had been vandalized. To the untrained eye it might appear that there was nothing more than graffiti-like material on the walls and windows of the building.
Hopefully, this event will begin a dialogue with new focus on the clear responsibility of the community to maintain the memorials in a manner reflecting the sacredness of this corner of the gayborhood. It's one thing to memorialize someone and quite another to simply walk away and not feel any responsibility for making certain that memorial is not diminished by a lack of maintenance or by not taking it down when it's time to do so. There has never been an established protocol for removing memorials, and some years ago, I wrote a letter to this paper asking people to follow up on their postings after a certain period of time had passed rather than leaving it to someone else to make that call. I hope the community and Bank of America can reach a reasonable accord to ensure the ongoing memorials and perceived sacredness of this place are considered by all parties.
In closing, I'd like to point out that more than 20 years ago the late Lion Barnett and I crafted an ongoing agreement with BofA for its generous annual donation of the community meeting room space above the Sunglass Hut used by more than 35 nonprofit groups. This is important information for those people intent upon casting Bank of America as an uncaring corporate entity.
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