Items collected at Pulse ahead of construction on interim memorial site

Work on temporary memorial to begin Monday

ORLANDO, Fla. – The final items outside Pulse were collected Sunday ahead of construction set to begin Monday at the site.

Officials with the onePULSE Foundation revealed updated plans Thursday to begin working on a temporary memorial.

The interim memorial is designed to serve as an inviting space for the thousands of people who visit the area each year to pay their respects to the 49 people killed in the June 16, 2016, massacre until plans for a permanent one are finalized.

“As we move to create a permanent memorial and museum to honor the 49 precious lives that were taken, we also know the importance of ensuring the families, survivors, first responders, and the community continue to have a place to reflect on what happened here,” onePULSE Foundation Executive Director and nightclub owner Barbara Poma said. “The interim memorial will provide areas to leave messages, and will include seating, shade, lighting and trees – creating a meaningful and inviting space while planning is under way.” 

The plans show a detailed mural that showcases the support shown by the Orlando community in the days after the shooting wrapping around the building. 

A new fence will also be put up around the property and the iconic Pulse sign, which is black and white with the letter "P" on it, will be enhanced, according to leaders with the foundation.

Much of the work on the temporary memorial will be done off-site, including the preserving of memorial items and artifacts collected at the site.

Updated plans show the view of the temporary memorial outside Pulse nightclub from Orange Avenue.

The collected items will be carefully preserved at the Orange County Regional History Center to be displayed at the permanent memorial and museum in the future, Pam Schwartz, chief curator of the History Center, said.

“June 12, 2016, was an historic day in Orlando’s history, and we are dedicated to ensuring that the lives taken, all those affected, and the outpouring of public support are not forgotten,” Schwartz said. “We will use the utmost care and sensitivity in preserving the items that were so lovingly created and placed here – they will be integral as the onePULSE Foundation plans the museum.”

Updated plans show the view of the temporary memorial outside Pulse nightclub from Esther Street.

Families and survivors were invited to take home any items they left at the site ahead of the collection.

Visitors were at the site Sunday as the History Center collected any remaining items.

Poma was also there to see the site one last time ahead of the changes.

[PHOTOS: Items collected at Pulse ahead of construction on interim memorial site]

"I was really excited for today and then when I got here and we started doing this, it was a little difficult. I'm not going to lie," Poma said. "But i know it's the right thing to do. I know it's part of healing. I know if I'm feeling it, everyone else is feeling it. It is the next step."

She said that although it was hard to think that the club would be different than how she and many others know it, she feels the changes are part of moving forward for everyone.

Poma said the appearance of the site may change with the interim memorial, but the meaning of it for survivors, victims' families and visitors won't.

"They'll still be able to do all those things, but in just a much more comfortable setting and a much more respectful setting. It's almost like phase two of our healing process," she said.

Work on the interim memorial is expected to be completed by the end of April, officials said. The work is not expected to have a major impact on the surrounding community.

The designs for the temporary memorial were approved by the Orlando City Council in October. More information about the design plans and the memorial task force members involved in the planning efforts can be found here.

Poma said she expects it to take at least two years for a final structure to be in place at the memorial site. Details for permanent plans have not yet been decided.

"We have no idea what that structure is going to look like, but we do know we want to take our time at it and get it right," Poma said.