Orlando's LGBT community expressed relief about the city’s plans to purchase Pulse nightclub and transform the site of the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history into a memorial for victims of the tragedy.
Terry DeCarlo, executive Director of the GLBT Center of Orlando, told ABC News that Mayor Buddy Dyer's decision to buy the nightclub for $2.25 million brought a sense of relief to his organization, as well as Orlando residents in general, who he said feared the possibility that it would be bought by someone who didn't understand its significance to the city.
"We are very glad that they did this, and turned it into a place where people can pay their respects," DeCarlo said. "It's become a sacred sight."
The City Council will vote next week on the purchase and, if approved, the matter will be finalized by the end of the year.
"On November 14, 2016 the Orlando City Council will vote to purchase Pulse nightclub at 1912 S. Orange Avenue, the site of our nation’s worst mass shooting,” the city said in statement. “The City and the owner of Pulse have agreed to a purchase price of $2.25 million. If the City Council votes to approve the land purchase on November 14, City staff will complete a due diligence period which includes review of the land survey, title and environmental of the site. Following this period, the parties have agreed to close on or before December 30, 2016.”
There is no timeline for the memorial construction, according to the statement.
There is also no timeline for developing plans on how the memorial will look, a city spokesman told ABC News.
Mayor Dyer said the goal was to “create something to honor the memory of the victims that are deceased [and] those that were injured, and a testament to the resilience of our community.”
"Now, we can actually secure it like we would any other piece of city property," he told The Orlando Sentinel.
The GLBT Center’s DeCarlo said the city has been slowly recovering from the June mass shooting in which gunman Omar Mateen killed 49 people, many of them young, Latino gay men. Old wounds are sometimes opened when the story re-enters the news cycle, DeCarlo said, citing the September release of 911 calls recorded during the tragedy as an example.
"It's not just the LGBT community, it's the entire city," DeCarlo said. "We're healing. It's a slow process. Sometimes it feels like we take two steps forward and one step back."
DeCarlo said that all night clubs in the city, not just clubs typically inhabited by the LGBT community, had tightened security in the aftermath of the shooting. He said a spirit of good will remained after the tragedy, and that residents carried forward a spirit of unity, now five months after the violence took place.
"It's great to see that the city is still standing as one," he said. "We don't shake hands now in Orlando; it’s all about hugging."