Friends of Fort Knox reject proposed fence agreement
Prospect — The Friends of Fort Knox Board of Directors voted unanimously to reject signing a Memorandum of Agreement on a proposed fence project at the State Historic site Tuesday night, Aug. 6.
The Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands is proposing the fence project, with assistance from the Army Corps of Engineers and funded through a program for formerly used defense sites and in concurrence with the Maine State Preservation Office.
The Bureau of Parks and Lands cites concerns of visitor safety and a need to meet State Occupational Safety and Health Administration concerns for State personnel who might work at the National Historic Landmark.
Recently, a public information meeting was held at Fort Knox where members of the community expressed concerns about the detrimental impact the fence project would have on the historic structure and diminished visitor experience at the site.
Members of the Friends of Fort Knox Board expressed concern about visitor safety during the meeting, but felt enhanced safety measures could be achieved without the installation of hundreds of feet of fence and the loss of visitor access to large areas of the Fort.
In a letter to Army Corps Engineering and Planning Chief Anthony Mackos dated July 10, Friends of Fort Knox Executive Director Leon Seymour said the 1,800 linear feet of railings and 300 linear feet of plantings proposed as fall protection measures “will have an adverse impact on the State Historic site.”
“The Friends of Fort Knox are deeply concerned about the adverse impacts, which will change the physical features and visual appearance of this National Historic Landmark. In addition, the Friends are concerned that the proposed mitigation measures may not be adequate in scope to address the adverse impact,” stated the letter.
In June 2012, a seven-year-old first grade student at the G. Herbert Jewett School in Bucksport suffered fractures to both arms, a laceration to his head and lost some teeth after falling about 15 feet off a wall at the fort while rolling down a hill during a school field trip. The youth was transported to Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor to be treated for those injuries.
According to Friends of Fort Knox, data from injury incident reports provided by the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands for the period of 1982 through 2010, and from Friends of Fort Knox reports for the past two years, a total of 44 reports have been filed. Many of the injuries came from slipping on wet stairs or walking. A total of five injuries over this 31-year span involved falling from a height of four feet or more. The percentage of falls from the referenced height represents 11.4 percent of injuries over three decades.