Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Public Art Proposal Isn't Sailing Smoothly; the Town Center Agency Wants to Place a Sculpture in the Roundabout

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Public Art Proposal Isn't Sailing Smoothly; the Town Center Agency Wants to Place a Sculpture in the Roundabout

Article excerpt

Byline: DREW DIXON

NEPTUNE BEACH - The City Council balked at giving unrestricted access to the roundabout at the foot of Atlantic Boulevard for art.

The council declined to vote on a resolution Monday that would have supported placing art at the roundabout near the ocean. The Town Center Agency wants to place a sculpture in the roundabout, but some council members worry the group wants too much of a free hand.

"They want to have complete control over what goes there and take us pretty much out of the picture," said Councilman Eric Pardee. "I don't really like that."

Other council members agreed and they chose not to vote on the resolution and decided to bring the issue back to the council for discussion during their workshop on Monday, March 17.

The Town Center Agency has started the process for selecting a sculpture and has established a "jury" to review submissions of artwork that could cost $250,000, with no money coming from the city. The agency will be solely responsible for the funding.

Michael Dunlap, a member of the Town Center Agency board, said the jury is composed of people from the arts community and they need to move without worrying about second guessing from panels such as the city's Planning and Development Review Board.

"If we in fact find the funding, engage the jury and make a decision and then we have the possibility of the planning board to deny it, that seems like an unacceptable scenario," Dunlap said. "We have a pretty wide brush as what may be acceptable to the jury. ... Controversy is built in."

Councilman John Weldon said he's not sure residents will be so easily persuaded that public art on public property will be a good thing if the design isn't generally acceptable.

"I think you guys may be failing to gauge the tenor of the potential discussion that we may have on this as the jury proceeds," Weldon said. "By limiting the scope of the jury's review to non-representational art, you're essentially saying that many traditional sculptures . …

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