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Memorial pool not a wishing well, official says

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- Oklahoma City National Memorial officials don't mind the "buckets full" of coins left at the site each week, they're just concerned about where visitors are putting them.

Despite the smattering of donation boxes throughout the memorial, people are leaving coins in the long, black pool at the middle of the site. Earlier, some were leaving coins in the bark of the Survivor Tree. Officials had that practice stopped as well.

But dropping the coins in the water ruin both the water's chemical composition and the effect of it being a bottomless void for contemplation, officials said.

As fast as workers using brooms and squeegees clean the pool, guests toss more coins in over their heads.

Other aspects of the memorial are going much better, Watkins said.

She said more than 100,000 people have visited the memorial since its opening April 19, with the memorial drawing between 1,500 to 5,000 visitors a day.

"We are overwhelmed by the numbers. They haven't gone down a bit," Watkins said.

She said all those people are taking the expected toll, though.

By the end of next week, workers will start planting grass within the memorial to replace temporary grass that has been trampled by foot traffic. First up for replanting is the site of former Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. There, visitors stroll through the 168 chairs representing bombing victims.

Watkins said the area will probably be roped off for several weeks to give the new grass time to establish roots.

Also, scaffolding is being erected this week to protect visitors while the exterior of the Journal Record Building goes through restoration.
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