An art project celebrating the city’s pioneering position in renewable energy will move forward following a vote Thursday evening. The process that led to the vote, however, came under fire.
At a glance: Desert Peak Energy, which is building a battery storage facility on 78 acres near Interstate 10, paid a $375,000 public arts fee as part of the permitting process. It’s hoping to recoup that fee as it works to build a $575,000 art project near the entrance to a nearby windmill tours business.
- Among the features of the art project would be painted blades arranged to look like historic landmarks and the restoration and display of one of the very first wind turbines in operation.
At issue: The city’s Public Arts Commission unanimously rejected the request for reimbursement at its Feb. 15 meeting. At the time, commissioners were concerned that most of the project’s costs would not be going toward art and that the plans they were shown were incomplete.
Driving the news: City Councilmember Lisa Middleton asked that the Council be allowed to review the decision Thursday evening. After review, the Council voted 4-1 to overturn the commission’s earlier decision.
- “I appreciate the Public Arts Commission’s struggles,” Middleton said before the vote, “but this is a project we should support enthusiastically.”
But wait: While the idea of the art project was never challenged, how the item came to the City Council drew criticism. Particularly troubling, Mayor Grace Garner said, was the fact the Arts Commission needed to be allowed more time to gain additional insight about the project before its backers sought City Council intervention.
- “The process that was taken I find very frustrating,” Garner said as she cast the lone no vote. “I would like to see us work so that in the future, we’re making sure that our Arts Commission is given what they need to make decisions.”