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Council plans to spend $90,000 for public art
Councilmember questions move on the heels of a sales tax hike

Despite having increased its sales tax rate on Jan. 1, the Prescott Valley Town Council is expected to spend up to $90,000 on a sculpture at the corner of Lakeshore Drive and Civic Circle.

It's a situation that raised a red flag for Councilman Stephen Marshall at the Town Council's Thursday, Jan. 7, meeting.

"About a month ago, we voted to raise taxes in the town. We told people that we were so broke we didn't have money for police or to fix the roads," Marshall said. "The ink hasn't even really dried on the tax raise yet and now we're going to go spend $90,000 on a sculpture. It just doesn't make sense to me."

Town Parks and Recreation Director Brian Witty updated the council on the art project Thursday.

He explained 28 artists applied for the commissioned work, and a committee selected Stephen Kishel, of Bluffton, South Carolina, following a five-week evaluation period.

As designed, the 26-foot-tall, 8-foot-wide sculpture will be mounted 10 to 12 feet above ground and be made of steel pipe and colorized sculpted aluminum.

"The public sculpture will be dynamic and structured, bold yet sophisticated, and tastefully colored with a Southwestern flair," Witty said.

He added that the color scheme will be negotiated between the selection committee and the artist.

"The artist has recognized the simple fact that this piece will have to be elevated," Witty said, explaining that raising the sculpture will both prevent people from climbing the art, as well as make visible the entry sign placed near the sculpture's base.

"There will be no blockage of the sign other than the three to four vertical posts," he said.

Marshall said he wasn't opposed to the sculpture, and recognized it was in the town's budget.

"I'm not saying don't do it. I'm saying let's get our stuff in order and then do it," he said. "We could scrap it and put something else in the budget."

Town Manager Larry Tarkowski explained the background behind the staff presentation of the project.

"It is consistent with what council has said for the last 25 years - and I'm talking scores of council people and a handful of mayors - and that is: We will incorporate art in public works projects, and we insist that art be incorporated in public works projects," Tarkowski said.

He said unlike some communities in Arizona, Prescott Valley does not mandate a percentage of public works projects be allocated to public art.

As for its placement, Tarkowski said, "It was going to be in the middle of a roundabout. The roundabout went away because of property ownership and long-term traffic decisions, and it was moved to this corner."

The Town Council did not take action on the proposed art, and the matter is slated for approval as part of the agenda for Thursday, Jan. 14.

In other agenda items, the Town Council on Thursday:

• Discussed with Reps. Karen Fann and Noel Campbell several issues expected to be taken up in the Legislature's regular session that started Monday.

• Discussed a floodplain channelization project along Viewpoint Drive between Manley Drive and Spouse Drive. The $500,000 project, using Yavapai County Flood Control District funds, is listed on the Jan. 14 agenda for approval.

Follow reporter Les Bowen on Twitter @NewsyLesBowen. Reach him at 928-445-3333, ext. 1110, or 928-830-9305.

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