After an hourlong discussion, Santa Clarita City Council members sent staff back to the drawing board for an art piece in the Newhall roundabout.
Instead of – or at least prior to – telling the Arts Commission what they want it to be, council members said they wanted to see a public opinion survey.
“Obviously, this was underfunded,” Councilwoman Laurene Weste said of the $45,000 budget for the art project. “One thing that’s critical is that we need to nail it down and get it started. This is the entrance of your old town, it’s important to business that whatever is done there is done well.” [The final two choices selected by the Arts Commission for the Newhall Roundabout]
While Mayor Bob Kellar seemed to concur, City Councilwoman Marsha McLean and Councilman TimBen Boydston had a different take.
Part of the issue that the discussion continued to revolve around was the cost.
Some community residents told council members they desired a bronze statue of Bill Hart and his horse Fritz – which the $45,000 budget wouldn’t cover.
After Arts and Recreation Commission Rick Gould noted that preliminary estimates for such a bronze sculpture would be in the range of around $100,000 to $150,000, fundraising efforts were mentioned.
Boydston suggested a different route altogether, mentioning a Christmas tree or perhaps landscaping or an iconic oak tree.
“I appreciate the fact that you’d like to see what the general population feels about this,” Boydston said to Kellar, noting a “straw poll in the council chambers” Kellar took, which showed a majority of hands raised supported the bronze statue idea over a tree, landscaping or a fountain.
“I think if you were to go out into the community, you might go out and get a different answer,” Boydston said, noting an online Facebook survey that showed a majority of those people polled favored an oak tree.
Weste expressed concern that that might not be elevated enough for such an important facade.
The council also debated turning it back over to the Arts Commission, as such decisions fall under its purview.
Art Commissioner John Dow and City Manager Ken Striplin suggested the City Council to provide some specificity to avoid a redux of what happened the first time around.
Dow himself expressed displeasure with the final two choices, which had been whittled down from eight.
“I think the from what I’m hearing there’s a desire to give this back to the Commission,” Striplin said, mentioning the choices that Kellar polled about as possible new suggestions for the the arts group.
“My only concern is the more specific we can be the better,” Striplin said. “Artists see things from a very artistic perspective,” he added cautioning that without guidance, there’s no guarantee that new proposals line up with community expectation.
At that point, the survey was discussed and ultimately left as the instruction for city staff, after a vote left the council deadlocked.
The move puts the previous deadline of Oct. 31 for an art piece to be selected on hold, Gould said.