The Roane Alliance recently contributed $10,000 to the fund supporting a new Peace Pavilion to house the International Friendship Bell in Oak Ridge’s Bissell Park.
Wade Creswell, president of the Roane Alliance; Pam May, Roane Alliance vice president; and Roane County Commissioner Steve Kelley presented the contribution to Pat Postma, co-chair of the International Friendship Bell Citizens Advisory Committee.
Kelley, who represents Roane County Commission District 4 in Oak Ridge, said county officials consider this a tourism contribution that will bring economic benefit to the county.
“The Tourism Committee of Roane County Commission had been looking for ways to help the new Manhattan Project National Historical Park become an economic engine for Roane County,” said Kelley, who chairs the committee. “I suggested a donation through the Roane Alliance to the bell project, to support the Bell and Peace Pavilion as an attraction for national park visitors. We believe it will help increase traffic to the national park and surrounding attractions.”
The Roane Alliance, Roane County’s economic development organization and an umbrella organization for the county’s Chamber of Commerce, the Industrial Development Board, and the Visitors Bureau, supported the proposal.
“The Peace Pavilion and Friendship Bell are an important piece of the Manhattan Project story—one that tells of a peaceful relationship that now exists with Japan,” May said. “The Roane County Visitors Bureau is excited to be a partner in the development of the park.”
“We are very excited about having the Manhattan Project National Historical Park in Oak Ridge and Roane County,” Creswell said. “The more stories and experiences we can provide visitors coming to the park, the more successful the park, which brings more economic prosperity to Oak Ridge and Roane County.”
The original pavilion that housed the Bell since 1996 had to be demolished in 2014 due to significant deterioration. An Advisory Committee was soon formed to plan a replacement and raise funds for the new pavilion, and architect Ziad Demian, of Washington, D.C., developed striking designs for a new Peace Pavilion. Recently, the Advisory Committee recommended a level site for the Bell and pavilion in Bissell Park that would be more visible and more convenient to parking for National Park visitors.
The International Friendship Bell and Peace Pavilion are expected to have a major role in the Manhattan Project National Historical Park in Oak Ridge. National Park Service officials expect the park to draw more than 70,000 visitors a year, and the bell will be a visible symbol of the peaceful relationship that developed between the United States and Japan after World War II.
The Advisory Committee hopes to raise $750,000 for the new Peace Pavilion, the surrounding Japanese and Tennessee gardens, and lighting to make the Bell visible at night. Envisioned as an inviting space for residents and visitors to come view and ring the International Friendship Bell, the pavilion and surrounding gardens will offer a gathering place for community events as well as quiet spaces for contemplation.
The official fundraising kickoff for the Peace Pavilion project will be November 17 at Pollard Auditorium, located at Oak Ridge Associated Universities. The public is invited to see the new location site for the Bell and architect’s drawings at that 5:30 p.m. event. Contributions may be made by check to the Oak Ridge Rotary Community Foundation, with “For Bell Project” on the check’s memo line. To see the eight different donor levels for supporting the Bell, go to http://friendshipbell.com and click on “Donate.”
Checks may be mailed to the International Friendship Bell Fund, Oak Ridge Rotary Community Fund, P.O. Box 6331, Oak Ridge, TN 37831. Online donations may be made at the website listed above. The foundation is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
This press release was submitted by Kay Brookshire.