Supes okay policy limiting public art on county property

~by Janice Harbaugh for GreeneCountyNewsOnline

The gallery was packed at the Greene County board of supervisors meeting on July 15 during discussion of the draft of a public art policy. Members and supporters of the Tower View Team were present as well as interested citizens of the county.

The public art policy drafted by county attorney Thomas Laehn had been published during the prior week and several people addressed the board with questions concerning the implementation of it. There was general agreement of the necessity for various groups involved with public art to work together with the board to equitably and legally develop art as tourism.

As stated at previous board meetings, the intention of the policy is that any art placed on courthouse grounds or in the common areas of the courthouse building must be solicited and approved by the board of supervisors. There also must be a policy and process of appeal for artists who are denied display privileges.

Laehn has informed the board at several meetings of risks involved without such a policy: if one group is allowed to place art on county property, then the board must allow all groups to place art, regardless of the content. In past meetings, issues of property damage and injury to people possibly climbing on the sculptures was discussed.

The draft policy gives the board of supervisors editorial control of the art chosen for display. The issue of editorial control versus discrimination based on content of the art was presented by a member of the gallery. The issue was not explored.

The long-term display of sculpture was discussed, with some gallery members wanting assurance of a year of display for sculpture on the courthouse grounds. Current sculpture is grandfathered in by the board until November, but some in the gallery advocated for extending it until April 2020. The board spoke of problems in guaranteeing a year of display for specific pieces of art if there were other artists who applied for display, and of maintenance such as snow removal around the art.

Other questions had to do with projects on the courthouse grounds such as the public piano. Laehn suggested a general policy for public art needed to be adopted and the board could then do resolutions for specific instances as needed.

A representative from Tower View Team said they would like a supervisor from the board to serve on their committee. This would facilitate the board putting out a call for art and exercising editorial control of the art. The board seemed in general agreement but did not appoint a member.

We’re not against public art,” supervisor Dawn Rudolph said.

Supervisor Tom Contner expressed concern that kids could get hurt by climbing on sculptures, and board chair John Muir said he “was hoping to find venues for art other than the courthouse.”

In the end, the Greene County public art policy was unanimously approved upon motion by Bardole and second by Contner. The policy is effective July 15, 2019.

In other business, supervisor Peter Bardole reported information about holiday lighting for the courthouse. He met with a representative from All American Turf Beauty who described various lighting possibilities from permanent strip lighting on the rooflines to up-lighting from the ground. Possibilities include LED lighting that changes color and can have other holiday colors such as orange for Halloween. Cost ranges from $10,800 to $14,000. Currently, the county pays for lighting to be put up each year.

Rudolph reported on possible courthouse renovations and improvements including replacing the HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning) system, courthouse windows, and upgrading the first-floor restrooms. Rudolph and Chuck Wenthold are researching possible sources of funding. The board discussed the logistics of renovation such as the possibility of moving offices to another building during the process.

The board unanimously approved reappointment of Sandra Miner as county representative to the Region XII Regional Housing Authority Board of directors from Oct. 1, 2019 through Sept. 30, 2020.

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