By Mark Baker
Appeared in print: Friday, Sep 10, 2010
It’s 30 feet tall and made of seven red metal poles — jutting toward the sky at different angles — that support a shimmering net of stainless steel cables and reflective disks.
It’s Eugene’s latest public sculpture.
But what, if anything, does it represent?
“That’s part of the attraction — what the hell is that thing?” said Tim Smith, a member of the city of Eugene’s public art committee, who served on the selection committee for the above referenced piece, titled “Bountiful” by its creator, Dexter artist Lee Imonen.
The $100,000 art project, intended to honor Native American net and weir fishing in the Northwest and part of the city’s new $5.6 million Delta Ponds pedestrian and bicycle bridge, was paid for with federal stimulus money.
The city received $1.2 million in stimulus money to help pay for the bridge that crosses Delta Highway just north of Valley River Center. But when bids for the bridge came back much lower than initially estimated, the city was faced with having to hand back to the federal government some of the earmarked stimulus money, according to city civil engineer Michelle Cahill. Instead of returning a portion of the funds, the city decided to look at adding elements it previously had thought it could not afford for the project.
Although the city has an ordinance requiring that 1 percent of costs for public construction projects be allocated for art, it does not apply to transportation-related projects, said Isaac Marquez, the city’s public art program manager.
So art was not initially considered for the Delta Ponds bridge project that is scheduled to open for use in November and will be publicly dedicated by city officials Saturday, he said.
Faced with having to send some of the stimulus money back, the city decided to apply to the federal government to use the excess stimulus money for a sculpture, an island crossing for pedestrians and bicyclists on Goodpasture Island Road, better lighting for the bridge, and powder-coated railings, according to Cahill.
Let me get this right. The money strapped City of Eugene not only builds a bike-pedestrian bridge for $5.6 million that we don't need but also wastes $100,000 on this piece of crap that they don't have to because they don't want to give back any of the "stimulus"money from the feds. Believe me the next time the City cries poor mouth this issue will come up.