No home yet for Berlin Wall sections | January 18, 2013 | Mountain View Voice | Mountain View Online |

Mountain View Voice

News - January 18, 2013

No home yet for Berlin Wall sections

by Daniel DeBolt

On Tuesday the City Council was set to decide where to display two large sections of the Berlin Wall donated to the city last year, but could not come to an agreement.

Council members were divided over three potential locations for the pieces: Pioneer Park behind City Hall, Charleston Park next to Google headquarters and Centennial Plaza next to the downtown train station. Members voted to have city staff look closer at places to put the wall section that weren't in a park, including more information on how it might fit near the train station.

The sections were donated by the Golzen family, which has had the sections tucked away in the parking lot of an office park at 2685 Marine Way. The pieces have to be moved by sometime this summer because the property was sold following the death of family patriarch Frank Golzen.

Golzen, a German immigrant and real estate developer who had originally purchased the sections shortly after the wall fell in 1989, wrote the plaque that accompanies them called, "A tribute to American resolve."

While city staff members had ranked Pioneer Park as the best location in rterms of visibility, security and aesthetics, council members Jac Siegel, John McAlister, Ronit Bryant and Margaret Abe-Koga opposed that idea.

It would mean "squeezing it into an already busy park," said member Abe-Koga.

"I don't want to take up any park space with it," Siegel said. "I think that would be absolutely wrong."

Bryant added, "If you look at them objectively, they are two very large pieces of ugly cement. What you put in a park is a tree or plant or an object of beauty."

The City's Visual Arts Committee found Charleston Park its favorite location, calling it a "tranquil" place that needed art, according to a report.

"My first choice is Charleston Park," McAlister said. "There's going to be quite a bit of activity out there with Google. And there is security all over the place."

Council member Siegel said it wouldn't be fair to most of Mountain View to place the sections out in North Bayshore by Google. It was also noted that Charleston Park doesn't appear to be a public park because it is surrounded by office buildings.

"When we look at this again I think we'll find the transit center is a good place to go," Siegel said.

City staff recommend a protective film or plexiglass case around the sections to prevent graffiti.

Addressing that concern, Visual Arts Committee chair Chris Parkinson noted that there would be a plaque explaining the history of the sections.

"The taggers are not going to read that," said council member Jac Siegel. "That's a big concern of mine."

Email Daniel DeBolt at


Posted by Jim Neal, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jan 18, 2013 at 10:29 am

Jim Neal is a registered user.

I was at this meeting on Tuesday and it was a good reminder of why I ran for office in the first place! There were audible gasps of shock when Ronit Bryant referred to these National Treasures as "two very large pieces of ugly cement". It appears to me that there are some on the council that do not understand the history and the struggle represented by these sections of the wall. It is like calling Yellowstone Park "A bunch of dirt filled with firewood" or Martin Luther King's "I have a dream" speech "a bunch of words spoken by some Black guy".

The fact is that this is a historic monument that we are very lucky to have and I think it should be given a place of honor and given the highest protection possible. I suggested that the Wall section be placed on City Hall Plaza, but the excuse was that the plaza will not support the weight. I think with some reinforcements installed underneath, it should not be a problem. After all, the plaza already supports a large fountain filled with water!

As to the other locations, I think the Transit center would make the second best choice since it is well lighted at all times and there is a constant presence of people to discourage vandalism.

The park ideas are bad because they are deserted at night and would just scream for someone to deface the monuments since as we have seen, some people place no value on them.

The wall symbolizes what happens when the government controls every aspect of the lives of its citizens and to me, that kind of control is uglier than any wall could ever be.

Jim Neal
Old Mountain View

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