DENVER (AP) - The Colorado Legislature has halted plans to build permanent fencing around most of the state Capitol following criticism from residents.
Lawmakers previously considered allocating more than $1 million to erect a six-foot-tall (1.8-meter-tall), wrought-iron black fence to encircle the building, The Denver Post reported Monday. It was part of an $8 million budget allotment for security upgrades in response to vandalism during protests last year.
“It’s important to know that we listened,” Democratic House Speaker Alec Garnett said. “We heard folks raise concerns about the plans.”
Garnett said the Legislature will embark on a “public process” about the topic, without providing specifics. He stopped short of committing to permanently scrapping the fence idea, but said the plan has been halted for now.
“At the moment, people can feel comfortable that we pressed pause, if not stop, to allow for us to set up that process,” Garnett said.
He added, “It’s essentially a pause-slash-stop of the fence. Clearly, people have opinions on a fence, so let’s set up a process to talk about it.”
The fence was designed to avoid blocking public access, but residents and some state officials argued it would send a message saying otherwise. Some also criticized the project’s cost.
Dozens of former state officials including Govs. Bill Owens and Dick Lamm signed a letter this month asking the Legislature to “reconsider the substantive and symbolic impact of placing a permanent fence around the people’s house.”
The Legislature’s Joint Budget Committee unanimously voted last Friday to remove the funding planned for the fence from the proposed state budget, which is set to be finalized in coming weeks.
“We’ve heard loud and clear from the community, including former elected officials from both sides of the aisle, that a wall around the Capitol is highly problematic and not befitting of the institution,” said Democratic state Rep. Leslie Herod, who serves on the committee.
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