October 31, 2014

County votes against relocating public art display

Mark Taylor
mtaylor@gardnernews.com
The Johnson County Board of Commissioners voted 5-2 on Oct. 20 against spending $16,000 in general reserve funds to move a sculpture.
The Public Building Commission awarded a $130,0000 contract for the sculpture in 2010 as part the new public works facility.
County officials had exprecced concern about the original location of the sculpture and its low visibility to the public.
They suggested moving the artwork to a more visible spot on the public works property.
Hannes Zacharias, county manager, said in a memo to county commissioners that $8,200 has been spent to date on site utilities to supply electricity to power the sculpture.
Relocating the sculture would require up to an additional $29,000 to pay for electric utility extensions.
“If the relocation is going to take place it is important to do so right away,” Zacharias said. “Conduit would need to be routed to the new location before work to lay new asphalt starts, which is scheduled in about three weeks for that area of the site.”
Zacharias said public works did not have funding for the relocation in its budget, but said the county general fund had sufficient reserves to cover the cost.
“However, this may impact the county’s ability to use those reserves for other expenditures and maintain the minimum level of reserves as directed by the board of county commissioners,” he said.
Staff recommended against relocating the sculpture.
Commissioner Michael Ashcraft moved to approve the relocation at a cost not to exceed $16,000, a reduction from the original $29,000 estimate. Commissioner David Lindstrom seconded the motion.
Ashcraft and Lindstrom – who said they regretted the additional expenditure, but believed the art should be more accessible to the public –  were the only commissioners to vote in favor.
Chairman Ed Eilert and commissioners Jim Allen, Calvin Hayden, Jason Osterhaus, and C. Edward Peterson voted against the relocation.
“I think we have spent too much on this as it is,” Hayden said. “If we are going to spend more I would rather put a snowplow out there, paint it silver and turn the lights on.”

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