King County Department of Transportation leaders met with residents today at the Preston Community Center to work out a way to honor a roadside memorial the community created on county right-of-way.
The memorial consisted mostly of U.S. flags and banners mounted on a wall along Preston-Fall City Road SE. After a complaint, the county’s transportation department removed the items consistent with county rules that are designed to limit distractions on roads and to avoid concerns about messages on public roadways. Residents protested the removal, and more flags and banners appeared on the wall.
“On behalf of the department, I offer my sincere apologies to the residents of Preston and the surrounding community,” said the county’s transportation director, Harold Taniguchi. “We should have reached out to the community before removing the flags, banners, and messages. We will work with Preston to find a solution that respects both our legal obligations and the values and desires of this community.
“For the time being,” he added, “the wall will remain as it is now.”
King County Councilmember Kathy Lambert, who represents District 3 that the town is a part, initiated the discussion between the residents and King County officials. “This wall is a revered spot for people in and around Preston,” Lambert said. “I’m glad we can now work together to find a solution that will respect the values of the community, pay proper respect to the flag, and maintains our obligation to public safety.”
“I very much respect the county’s difficult position here, and am overjoyed that they are working together with us now and came out today,” said Ron Goins, a local resident who attended the meeting.
Kristi McClelland, who lives in Preston, said, “I felt from the meeting that there is a lot of concern and care for our town and I’m really happy that we are being heard. We’re only a small town, but this wall means a lot to us here. I appreciate the county taking a risk and the time today hearing us out.”
“We will continue to keep dialogue open to inform the community as future forums or meetings on this issue are planned and to pass along any suggestions we may have,” Elizabeth Hill, King County Senior Deputy Ombudsman for Rural Affairs, said.
Stay informed about this and other issues related to roads in unincorporated King County, visit the King County Road Services website (www.kingcounty.gov/roads)
FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT:
Brent Champaco, KCDOT, 206-477-9094 or firstname.lastname@example.org