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Analysis: Before waterfront regulators allowed the USS Midway’s current parking spot near downtown San Diego, they required the floating museum provide the public with free access to the ship’s bow.
Regulators said the perk would “partially offset the loss of views from surrounding areas” by the aircraft carrier’s presence. When people request the view today, the museum provides an escort to and from the ship’s bow, spokesman Scott McGaugh said.
It’s a little known public benefit that’s surfaced in recent public debate.
A team of architects and waterfront boosters wants to build an iconic monument and has come up with a $35 million sculpture shaped like a pair of metallic wings. It would climb up to 500 feet high above Navy Pier, adjacent to the USS Midway Museum.
The proposal’s been the talk of the town, spurring editorial letters, public meetings and widespread media coverage. Numerous residents and environmental advocates worry the sculpture would obstruct views of the bay, either directly or through the sun’s glare.
In a blog post published by the Union-Tribune last month, Gleaves cited one example of that criticism — panoramic views from the USS Midway’s bow. He said the “wings” proposal would degrade a view that the public’s been promised. Here’s the full context of his statement:
The Midway museum currently offers no information on free public access to the bow of the Midway: no mention of it is made on the museum website, and no signs on the museum entrance indicate that there is any way to board the ship other than by paying the $18 admission fee.
We checked the museum’s website and couldn’t find any mention of the perk.
We did, however, locate several signs near the museum’s entrance. Here’s what they say:
|Photo by Sam Hodgson|
|Signs outside the USS Midway Museum advertise free access to the bow of the ship.|
In an interview about his statement, Gleaves said he had gone to the museum before writing his story and didn’t see any signs. After viewing the pictures we took of the signs, he conceded that he had missed them.
The signs aren’t exactly in-your-face. They’re titled simply “Bay Access,” only mention the perk in fine print and describe the benefit in a roundabout way. We found three signs near the museum’s entrance, but if you weren’t searching for them, they’d be easy to overlook.
Museum officials also suggest they don’t want to publicize the perk, either. At a meeting about the “wings” sculpture and proposed developments last week, CEO Mac McLaughlin called the perk a drain on the museum’s budget and defended not advertising it “to the world.”
“It costs a couple million dollars a year to keep that ship looking as good as it does. And the reason why we’ve got that money is that people buy tickets,” McLaughlin said. “However, every day, the public access is open and will continue to be open moving forward.”
Though the museum provides little information on the free perk and that information is easy to miss, we ultimately rated Gleaves’ statement False because he said “no information” and cited the lack of signs. However low-key they are, the signs do exist. If you disagree with our determination or analysis, please express your thoughts in the comments section of this blog post. Please explain your reasoning, too.
VOSD photographer Sam Hodgson and arts editor Kelly Bennett contributed to this Fact Check.
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