Part of the fabric
Published 5:38 pm Thursday, January 28, 2016
Sometimes, what’s important to people can be difficult to understand. At the City Council meeting earlier this week, several people spoke about the “big wheel” at Havens Gardens. It’s become a topic of interest in recent weeks.
The wheel needs to be moved so playground equipment for handicapped children can be installed at the waterfront park. Two weeks ago, the council considered three options — relocating the wheel close to the boat ramps, relocating the wheel farther east at the park or storing it until a suitable site could be found. A majority of speakers at the council’s Jan. 11 meeting supported moving the wheel to the bridge side of the park, next to the N.C. Highway 32 bridge that connects Washington and Washington Park. That’s what the council voted to do.
During the council’s meeting this week, Ray Midgett, spokesman for the Historic Port of Washington Project committee, told the council the committee is willing to assist in placing interpretive signage at the wheel describing its history and placement at the waterfront park. That’s an impressive offer because it shows people are interested in preserving the city’s history and telling how the wheel — apparently the flywheel of a steam engine at the Mason Lumber Co. in Columbia and later moved to Washington — symbolizes one of the industries that helped Washington grow to importance as a port from which lumber and other goods were shipped.
For decades, children have climbed on the wheel and others have used the wheel as a prop for personal and yearbook photographs. During the council’s meeting Monday, one of those children, Lindsay Knox, discussed the community’s ties to the wheel. “You have heard … the older generation speak about the importance of the wheel, but I think it’s important to hear from the younger generation,” she said.
It may be an old flywheel from a steam engine, but it’s an important part of the fabric that makes Washington. And that’s why it’s important to some people.