- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 6, 2016

The owner of Pulse, the Orlando nightclub that witnessed the deadliest mass-shooting in modern U.S. history, said she decided against selling the club to the city.

“Pulse means so very much to my family and to our community, and I can’t just walk away,” owner Barbara Poma said in a statement Monday. “I feel a personal obligation to ensure that a permanent space at Pulse be created so that all generations to come will remember those affected by, and taken on, June 12.”

In November, Ms. Pomaannounced that she had agreed to sell the gay bar to the city for $2.25 million so that it could be turned into a memorial for the victims of the June 12 massacre that left 49 people dead and dozens more injured. At a Monday press conference, however, she told reporters that weeks of soul-searching convinced her to maintain ownership and take on the project herself.

“This decision truly came just from my heart and my passion for Pulse, and everything it’s meant to me and my family for the last 12 years since its inception,” she said at a news conference held outside the club, the Orlando Sentinel reported. “So I think the struggle was you know, letting it go, and it’s just something I could not come to grips with.”

Ms. Poma said she intends to turn Pulse into “a sanctuary of hope and a welcoming area to remember all those affected by the tragedy.”

“I hope the love and support we have seen through this time from around the world and here at home will continue as we join together to build a place to memorialize our angels,” she said in a statement.

Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer said previously that the city hoped to acquire the Pulse site in order to “create something to honor the memory of the victims that are deceased [and] those that were injured, and a testament to the resilience of our community.”

“We understand that this was an incredibly difficult decision for the owners,” the city said in a statement Monday after Ms. Poma announced her decision to hold onto the club. “We respect their decision and are hopeful the Pulse site continues to be a place of hope and healing that honors the victims.”

“I’m distressed by the decision, but I support Barbara’s decision,” District 4 Commissioner Patty Sheehan told the Sentinel.

The city council had been slated to authorize the purchase of Pulse during a Nov. 14 meeting, but tabled the vote due to concerns raised about the price of the property, the newspaper reported. The city had previously appraised the property at $1.65 million, a significantly smaller figure than the $2.25 million sale price.

“Everyone’s entitled to their opinion and their feelings but, for me, it wasn’t about the real estate and the appraisal, it was about the emotion, what happened here,” Ms. Poma told the Sentinel this week.

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