As volunteers finish cleaning the Pearson Air Museum building, outside local Vancouver residents gather to demonstrate against the way in which the National Parks forced the museum to close. When the National Park Service asked for the keys and security codes to be handed over on Wednesday, they expected the exhibits to still be in place. Tracy Fortmann, Superintendant at the National Park Services’ Fort Vancouver National Historic Site said, “We were surprised and personally saddened and unaware that the trust had determined to remove all the property. We assumed that would remain in that space.”
Today, a crowd (young and old) gathered to demonstrate their displeasure at the loss of a Vancouver icon. Many stated that they had visited the museum through the years and were disappointed in the way this was handled. Daniel Bradley, a former volunteer stated, “If it wasn’t for the museum, I literally wouldn’t have had a place to hang out, learn about aviation, and life lessons from the older veterans who volunteered here.” For those who showed up the consensus seem to be, “We want our air museum back.”
It is not only the loss of the museum that affects the community, it is the loss of a venue to special events. One such event was a fund raiser for the school for the blind. Laureano Mier, manager of the Pearson Air Museum was concerned at not being able to be part of the blind school’s event this year. The museum had programs and camps aimed at youth who had an interest in aviation. At this time the aviation camps scheduled for this summer are still on. But that could change in the near future.
Those associated with Pearson Air Museum are waiting for the dust to settle. Then they will evaluate to see what the next steps are. One way for people to help resolve this issue, would be to contact local government leaders and our Congressmen and Representatives in Washington D.C. Representative Jaime Herrera Beutler already weighed in on this, “I’ve discussed with the House Resources Committee a possible Congressional hearing for the park service to explain how exactly its actions are serving residents of Southwest Washington. Additionally, as a new member of the House Appropriations Interior Subcommittee that sets the park service’s annual budget, I’ve already organized a meeting between the subcommittee chair and the director of the park service specifically about this issue.”
Click below to see a gallery of photos taken at the demonstration.