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City officials are beginning their review of a draft plan for $3.6 million in public art that voters approved in the Fort Worth bond election in May. The largest single piece – $1.67 million – would go toward an “iconic public artwork” to be built in a public-private partnership in the central city. The idea would be developed with “citywide community involvement. The draft plan proposes public art attached to16 projects approved in the bond program for streets, transportation, parks and recreation, library, fire, municipal court, municipal service facility, and animal care and control. “This plan is a draft, and we’re happy to meet individually with each council member to go over the components” and get feedback, Greg Ibanez, chairman of the Fort Worth Art Commission, told City Council members July 22. The commission endorsed the draft plan a week earlier.
The city’s public art program has been often controversial, with council members paring the percentage devoted to it in the 2014 bond program from previous capital programs. In the largest proposition, transportation, council members cut the percentage to 1 percent from 2 percent. Council members vote on the public art plans and expenditures, but in the debate over the 2014 bond program, some council members criticized projects that past councils had approved. And earlier this year, controversy erupted again when the estimated costs of installing “Tabachin Ribbon,” a sculpture donated from an exhibit in Chicago, ballooned. The Arts Council of Fort Worth manages the public art program, with oversight by the Art Commission. “Obviously, [the draft plan] is a first step in the process, and we’ll be looking forward to it as you put meat on the bone,” Mayor Pro Tem W.B. “Zim” Zimmerman told Ibanez during the presentation. Council members raised a few questions. District 6 Councilman Jungus Jordan, who had proposed eliminating public art expenditures and redistributing the money to transportation and parks in the $292 million bond program, asked why there was no public art attached to the Chisholm Trail park piece in the package. The park is in Jordan’s district.
“I was pretty vocal” about spending on public art, Jordan said in an interview July 22. “I hope that’s not the reason my park is being shorted.” “We need the input,” Ibanez told Jordan during the presentation.
Other proposed pieces in the draft plan: • Pedestrian improvements in two of the city’s urban villages, to be chosen in a process led by the Planning Department, for a total of $160,000. • Transit-oriented development, $350,000. Use of lights in an artwork in the South Main Street Tunnel, helping connect downtown to the Near Southside urban village. • Northwest Community Park, artwork related to the trail overlook to Walnut Lake. This section of the city has a dearth of public art, Ibanez said. “We think this is important,” he said. $150,000. • Heritage Park, public art piece with revitalization of the downtown Fort Worth park, $240,000. Downtown Fort Worth Inc. and other partners are leading the plan to revamp the park. “We think public art can help leverage that,” Ibanez said. • Como Community Center, $106,000. Art to follow the Lake Como Public Art Master Plan. • Eugene McCray Community Center, $60,200. Work is likely to be done by an emerging public artist. • Handley-Meadowbrook Community Center, $60,200. Work also likely to be done by an emerging artist. • Eastside Library, East Lancaster and Oakland boulevards, $65,000. Work to follow the East Lancaster Corridor Public Art Plan. • Far North Library, $183,000. Artwork to be commissioned in line with the city’s library public art plan. • Fire Station 42, South Fort Worth, $91,050. Work to be commissioned with artist Tierney Malone. • Fire Station 43, Walsh Ranch, West Fort Worth, $91,050. • Downtown Public Safety and Municipal Court Building renovation, $30,000. Artwork for the lobby. More funds from the city’s Public Art Fund may be necessary for the project, Ibanez told the council. • North Fort Worth field operations service facility, $95,700. • Municipal vehicle maintenance facility, Holly Water Treatment Plant, $200,000. • North animal control facility, $48,100.