onePULSE Foundation hosts memorial planning meeting Saturday

Meetings at Orange County libraries

By Adrianna Iwasinski - Investigative Reporter

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - Walking around the former Pulse nightclub grounds, it’s easy to see all the love people have left behind at the scene of one of the most deadly mass shootings in the U.S. -- stuffed animals, flowers, a note on the banner wrapping the fence around the building.

However, for those who live right down the street from the South Orange Avenue site, the memorial is showing signs of wear and tear in the Florida weather.

“It gets rained on, it gets hot; it’s not really a pretty area,” said Tara Hall, who lives near Pulse. “They need to make more of a park or memorial where people can come visit but have rules on what they can leave behind.”

Weather has taken its toll on some of the longer-standing mementos.

But very soon, the area will receive a much-needed revival.

Starting next month, work crews will be removing a lot of the temporary memorial and placing a new, lower fence around the Pulse building.

News 6 obtained pictures of what the interim memorial will look like. The plans include more greenery and landscaping in an effort to blend in with the nearby neighborhood.

On Saturday, The onePULSE Foundation Task Force will hold the first of several meetings planned in Orange and Osceola counties to discuss the plans for a permanent memorial and museum at the Pulse nightclub site.

The public meetings at local libraries will be held for the community on Saturday, Feb. 3, Feb. 24, March 3 and March 24.

Last September, the foundation launched a survey designed to collect ideas for what that memorial will represent and feel like. Saturday’s meeting at the Orange County Library's Alafaya branch will include an update on the results of that survey.

Hall said she hopes the original building is torn down.

“I would love to see some sort of memorial park, maybe -- obviously something to remember those who lost their lives there,” the SoDo resident said.

"We want and need public input as we move forward with this process," said Barbara Poma, CEO of the onePULSE Foundation and Pulse nightclub owner. "This memorial is for and about the community. There are varied opinions and ideas about what should happen to the site and we want to hear them all; these informal meetings are ideal for those conversations. Public input is simply invaluable."

Tax document from 2016 show that more than a quarter of a million dollars, $269,173, was donated to the onePULSE Foundation in the months following the deadly shooting. Tax records show $195,189 was spent on expenses related to grants and similar amounts paid.

Records for 2017 aren't available yet.

Saturday’s meeting starts at 1:30 p.m. at the Alafaya branch of the Orange County Library on East Colonial Drive. For more information, visit onepulsefoundation.org.

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