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Originally published Friday, June 26, 2009 at 12:00 AM

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Schools won't let Navy hold meeting at district site

Seattle Public Schools refused to let the Navy hold a public meeting at school- district headquarters Thursday, for reasons that the Navy doesn't understand.

Seattle Times education reporter

Seattle Public Schools refused to let the Navy hold a public meeting at the school district's headquarters Thursday, for reasons the Navy says it doesn't understand.

A school-district spokesman said the Navy didn't tell the district until Wednesday that security would be needed at the meeting.

"There wasn't adequate time to provide the security staff they were requesting," said district spokesman David Tucker.

Navy spokeswoman Sheila Murray, however, said district officials told her they were concerned about protesters showing up for the meeting, at which the Navy planned to solicit public views on environmental issues involving a proposed weapons-loading wharf at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor.

Murray also said district officials wouldn't allow the meeting to go forward even after Navy officials and the Poulsbo Fire Department, where a similar meeting was held Tuesday, assured them that protesters who had shown up to date were peaceful and hadn't caused any problems.

"We did try to explain to them, there really wasn't controversy," she said.

The meeting at the Seattle Public Schools headquarters was to be the third of three public meetings about the proposed wharf, which the Navy says it needs to ensure sufficient facilities to load and unload missiles and perform other operations and upgrades for the Trident program.

The first meeting was held at the Poulsbo Fire Station Tuesday, the second at a fire station in Port Ludlow.

The Navy had arranged in February to use the school district's headquarters for the third meeting, Murray said, and the district canceled the contract Wednesday.

Members of a peace group, Ground Zero, showed up at the two earlier meetings with a huge, inflatable missile, Murray said, and the Navy welcomed that. "They are just expressing their first Amendment rights," she said.

The fake missile, she said, helped draw attention to the meeting in Poulsbo, spurring "more public to come in and find out what was going on."

The Navy ended up moving its Thursday meeting to a nearby Starbucks building.

Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company

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