Sculpture proposed to honor one of Vail’s founders, Pete Seibert, may be out of time
What’s the dream?
What: A proposed sculpture of Pete Seibert, one of Vail’s founders, and an unidentified rancher.
Backers: Roger Tilkemeier and Bill Rey.
Artist: Herb Mignery.
Cost: An estimated $300,000.
VAIL — “Pete’s Dream” may be at an end.
The Vail Town Council on Tuesday, March 20, rejected an emotional plea for the town to fund the full cost of a sculpture by artist Herb Mignery of Pete Seibert, one of Vail’s founders, and an unidentified rancher. The rancher in the piece represents those who sold their valley-floor land to the fledgling resort. Instead, council members agreed to set aside $150,000 of the piece’s estimated $300,000 cost. The rest would need to be raised through private donations.
The request came during a second, and final, reading of an ordinance for the town’s first supplemental budget of the year. That ordinance also includes $500,000 to replenish the funds in the town’s deed-restriction purchase program and $160,000 to fund the employees needed for this summer’s parking program.
Second readings of ordinances are often formalities, with controversial items having been hashed out or rejected by the vote for final approval. But this 5-1 vote — council member Kim Langmaid was absent and council member Greg Moffet voted against the ordinance — was a final pitch for full funding.
Sculpture proponents Roger Tilkemeier and Bill Rey made one last appeal for a project that has been nearly three years in the planning.
Rey and Tilkemeier first took the proposed sculpture to the Vail Art in Public Places board. At the time, the sculpture was to be privately funded and donated to the town.
With that in mind, the arts board unanimously endorsed the idea.
But the fundraising drive failed, with several potential donors telling Tilkemeier and Rey the sculpture should be town-funded.
Backers of town funding came out in force for a council meeting on Tuesday, March 6, the first reading of the supplemental budget.
That hearing resulted in setting aside $150,000 for the project.
While most of the discussion focused on the “Pete’s Dream” sculpture, Brant Seibert, one of Pete Seibert’s son, proposed another piece to honor his father.
“I don’t find this to be the most compelling thing,” Seibert said. “I’d like to see us do better.”
Rey and Tilkemeier countered that they believed the proposed sculpture does capture the essence of what Seibert and others did.
Ultimately, Tilkemeier said, Pete Seibert deserves “to be remembered, whatever the cost. Anything less is shameful.”
Council members held firm to their belief that any monument to Seibert must have private funding.
Council member Kevin Foley recommended putting the $150,000 into the budget supplement.
Out of time?
“I didn’t want to see this go away, but I knew there wasn’t consensus” on the council for full funding, Foley said, adding he hoped Tilkemeier and Rey could try again to find private funding.
“I’m not rich … but I’ve got $250 to put toward it,” he said.
Council member Jen Mason said she could also write a modest check for the project, if needed. But, Mason said, council members have a lot to consider when asked for taxpayer funds. Mason said her email inbox and phone voicemail have both filled up recently with comments from residents opposed to the sculpture idea.
Then there’s the fact that publicly funded art in Vail has to go through the town’s Art in Public Places board.
“One of the advantages of private funding is you have complete control,” council member Jenn Bruno said. “That’s not the case with government funding.”
Bruno added she believes that Rey and Tilkemeier could still raise the needed funds to pay for the project.
But, Tilkemeier said, time is running out. Mignery is ready to start work but needs to know whether the project can be funded.
“The time for kicking the can down the road is gone,” Tilkemeier said.
After the vote on the supplemental budget, Tilkemeier got up to leave. On his way out, he said, “I guess it’s over.”
Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930, firstname.lastname@example.org or @scottnmiller.