Pulse memorial site to move after OnePULSE, nightclub owner unable to reach agreement

Last month, foundation announced Barbara Poma stepped down from her position with group.

ORLANDO, Fla. – The onePULSE Foundation announced the National Pulse Memorial will be built on a different site after it was unable to reach an agreement with founder Barbara Poma and associates for the donation of the nightclub property.

The nonprofit, which was established by Barbara Poma after the June 12, 2016 mass shooting that killed 49 people at the nightclub in Orlando, sent the announcement in a news release on Tuesday.

Last month, the foundation announced Poma stepped down from her position with the group.

At the time of Poma’s departure, the foundation released a statement that read, “The Foundation is grateful to Barbara for her many contributions, and commitment to onePULSE, and for being a lifetime advocate for the LGBTQIA+ community.”

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The nightclub site was turned into a memorial and efforts were underway to build a more permanent museum and memorial.

Tuesday’s surprise announcement noted that despite months of negotiations an agreement could not be made for the full donation of the nightclub.

The onePULSE Foundation is disappointed to report that after months of negotiation, an agreement could not be reached with Barbara Poma (the Founder of onePULSE Foundation), her husband, Rosario Poma, and their business partner, Michael Panaggio, for the full donation of the Pulse nightclub property. The Foundation had previously planned to build a permanent national memorial at the site to commemorate the 49 lives taken, survivors, first responders, and all those impacted by the June 12, 2016, tragedy.

Scott E. Bowman, Chief Communications & Government Relations Officer onePULSE Foundation, Inc

A spokesperson for onePULSE said an announcement will be made in mid-May with plans for “the National Pulse Memorial on a new site, Orlando Health Survivors Walk and Pulse Museum.”

Poma released a statement to News 6 regarding the onePULSE Foundation’s announcement:

Christine Leinonen, mother of Christopher Andrew Leinonen who was killed at the Pulse Nightclub shooting in 2016, said she never wanted a museum or memorial — explaining that she’s concerned it might become a tourist attraction.

“I took offense to a business owner where my son was killed to then try to profit from the massacre at their business. Well, I found that to be repulsive...” she said. “I found that to be so repulsive to any sense of right or wrong.”

Orlando City Commissioner Patty Sheehan mirrored those sentiments, telling News 6 that she’s “angry.”

“The city offered them over $2 million seven years ago to purchase this property so we can make a memorial, and they said, ‘No.’ They want to be the stewards of it,” Sheehan said. “Well, what now?”

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About the Author:

Jacob joined ClickOrlando.com in 2022. He spent 19 years at the Orlando Sentinel, mostly as a photojournalist and video journalist, before joining Spectrum News 13 as a web editor and digital journalist in 2021.