CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Capitol Building Commission members on Wednesday approved a Capitol Complex perimeter security plan — featuring a fence around the Governor’s Mansion — that architects say will improve security while preserving the park-like campus atmosphere of the Capitol grounds.
“This is the people’s campus,” said Brian Kinzelman, architect with GAI Consultants. “We made the decision early on we want to secure it, not encase it.”
The architects’ plan proposes five phases of perimeter security enhancements, as funding becomes available, with the first phase being a low wall and fence around the Governor’s Mansion.
Architect Dave Gilmore said the wall and fence design is based on a 1921 rendering by mansion architect Walter Martens, who proposed a brick wall, featuring brick pillars, topped with wrought iron fencing. The wall was not constructed.
As proposed, the design would extend the sidewalk in front of the Governor’s Mansion into what is now a parking lane on Kanawha Boulevard. That would eliminate eight to 12 parking spaces in front of the mansion, Gilmore said.
There would be a perimeter of 8 feet between the sidewalk and fence, filled with juniper bushes and other plants, he said.
“This is not intended to look like a prison wall,” Gilmore said. “We want it to look like a park.”
Two commission members — Supreme Court administrator Steve Canterbury and House of Delegates Clerk Greg Gray — questioned whether there would be a public backlash to constructing a fence around the mansion.
“There may be real blowback from citizens: ‘Who does the governor think he is that he needs a big fence?’” Canterbury noted…