The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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May 15, 2014

Commission OKs fence around the Governor's Mansion

CHARLESTON — State officials plan to install an ornamental fence and low wall around the Governor’s Mansion to improve security.

The project is part of the first phase of a perimeter security improvement plan developed by GAI Consultants for the Capitol Complex.

The plan calls for the limestone wall to ultimately be extended around the Capitol campus. The wall would be about the height of a bench, providing places for people to sit. The goal is prevent vehicles from driving onto the campus while preserving the campus’ park-like atmosphere.

The Capitol Building Commission approved the plan Wednesday, media outlets reported.

“This is the people’s campus,” Brian Kinzelman, an architect with GAI Consultants, told the commission. “We made the decision early on we want to secure it, not encase it.”

Another GAI Consultants architect, Dave Gilmore, said the wall and fence design is based on a 1921 rendering by the Governor’s Mansion architect, Walter Martens. Martens proposed a brick wall, featuring brick pillars, topped with wrought iron fencing.

Under the new plan, a parking lane in front of the Governor’s Mansion would be eliminated and the sidewalk would be extended. Juniper bushes and other plants would fill an 8-foot perimeter between the sidewalk and the fence, Gilmore said.

The plan’s first phase also includes converting a parking lot at the Culture Center into a turnaround for buses. The change would create a safer site for passengers to get off the buses, said Protective Services Director Randy Mayhew.

Buses currently stop on a high-traffic street to load and unload passengers.

A fund for Capitol Complex security projects has about $1 million, enough to complete the first phase, Gilmore said.

If a contract is awarded promptly, the fence and wall could be completed by late fall or early 2015, said Culture and History Commissioner Randall Reid-Smith, a member of the commission.

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