Vail Valley Voices: Review plan for Ford Park
Vail, CO Colorado
Editor’s note: The following is an excerpt from the Vail Homeowners Association monthly report for December. We publish weekly excerpts from the association, which keeps a close eye on economic and political trends in and outside of the town. The newsletter electronic version with links to supporting documents is available at http://www.vailhomeowners.com.
The controversy, reported nationally, over the $260,000 (includes a $133,000 artist’s fee) Ford Park relocation of the sculpture is not finally decided just because the budget allocation was approved. There is a possibility that a majority of the Town Council will call up the project at a future date as more information becomes available about the needs of other “institutions” using Ford Park.
There appears to be a degree of enmity on the part of some in town government towards those who they claim ousted the sculptural assemblage from Seibert Circle. At the time of its removal in 2005 there was no “outcry,” other than budgetary, for its $125,000 reinstallation elsewhere. The council’s decision was to put the sculpture in storage, where it currently resides.
Observers close to the 1996-98 approval and installation of the $200,000 sculpture, with an additional $800,000 in installation costs, in Seibert Circle say the town’s budgetary and political infighting caused the presentation of the final assemblage to be compromised. These compromises, in their view, may have been critical to the aesthetic success of the work itself. These compromises could account for what some believe was the tepid defense the sculpture received when the 2005 proposal to replace it with a fountain was being considered.
Nowadays, there appears to be public sentiment for greater fiscal accountability in the town of Vail’s spending habits. There are indications that the public mood may have found expression in a concern for finding a different approach to the town’s handling of its public art program, including the curation of its expanding collection. There is also a call for greater accountability to the community and affected neighborhoods over the approval and placement of proposed acquisitions.
There are those calling for the Moroles sculpture, now estimated to be valued at $1.5 million, to be sold.
Today, the advocates who are defending its Ford Park relocation appear to place a higher emphasis on the artist’s value-generating reputation than upon the aesthetic attributes of the piece. Some critics view this perspective as more appropriate for private collectors.
There are those on the Town Council who say there is no better way to spend the allocated funds. Yet, there are other institutions that have facilities in Ford Park who vigorously refute this claim.
The Betty Ford Alpine Gardens, because they are dependent upon donations to fund their nationally recognized facility and outreach programs, have been especially hard hit by the economic downturn. The pathways serving the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater need to be improved so that electric cart service for those who are access impaired can operate more efficiently and safely. The Nature Center has deviated from its intended purpose as an undeveloped open space nature sanctuary and is in need of restoration. Then there are those who want to add more permanent structures and improvements, such as large, intrusive parking structures, on open space in other areas of Ford Park. There may be the need to install new drainage infrastructure to increase treatment of the park’s surface runoff. Recent water quality studies indicate unacceptable pollution levels in Gore Creek, as measured by state water quality standards, which could endanger its Gold Medal Trout Stream designation and adversely affect Vail’s environmental image.
It is for these reasons that the Vail Homeowners Association is calling for a public review process to reaffirm or modify the park’s master plan before any further development is permitted, including the reinstallation of the Moroles sculpture.
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