What ultimately happens to the Pulse nightclub, the site of the deadliest mass shooting in US history will be up to the citizens of Orlando. Mayor Buddy Dyer announced Monday that an agreement had been reached with the owners and the Council would be asked to approve the deal next week. The property has been empty since June 12, when a gunman opened fire on revelers during a dance party. Before the carnage was over 49 people were killed in an act of domestic terrorism. The Pulse site, once a local landmark in the local gay community, now sees a steady stream of mourners who leave notes, photos or simply wish to visit the site of this senseless tragedy.
Pulse Nightclub continues to be a site of mourning - Rolling Stone - John Raoux/AP
According to the Orlando Sentinel, by deciding to purchase the nightclub, the City can manage the site like any other municipal property. Initially, a fence was placed to surround the building to keep out curiosity seekers from the crime scene. More recently a new, wider fenced area was erected with images from local artists. Each step had to be negotiated with the current owners and surrounding businesses. The intention now is to make a permanent memorial to honor the victims and to allow people to continue have a place to visit and remember.
For the next year or more the site will remain as is - anticipating more visitors and mourners. Periodically, the mementos of notes, stuffed animals, photos, and flowers are collected for preservation by the Orange County Regional History Center.
Mayor Dyer says the City is looking to other communities that have experienced tragedy for potential uses. They also are soliciting ideas from Orlando citizens. Some locations like the Sandyhook Elementary building, were bulldozed as a way for those communities to bring closure. Orlando will have a chance to define a new model by creating an appropriate way to memorialize the experience of the tragedy for this generation, and to introduce the event and its meaning to those who come later.