Traverse City Record-Eagle

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February 9, 2014

Steel statue stalled

TRAVERSE CITY — A proposal to erect a 20-foot-tall, stylized sculpture of a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter at the entrance to downtown hit a snag with the city’s parks and recreation commission.

Commission members expressed concerns this week that too few people are aware of a proposed statue that would occupy one of the city’s most prominent intersections at East Front Street and Grandview Parkway.

A Traverse City Coast Guard City Committee suggested a simple sculpture of a helicopter made from brushed stainless steel to commemorate Traverse City’s designation as a Coast Guard City. But the plan won’t fly with parks commissioners, not yet, anyway.

“I think we need to get some more outside feedback,” said city Commissioner Gary Howe, a member of the parks commission. “It is very large and it is very prominent. We need to make sure the public is aware of this.”

The sculpture would sit in the triangular-shaped city parkland that fills the wye where Grandview Parkway splits from East Front Street. Parks commissioners noted there are several redesign proposals for that intersection, ideas that range from a traffic roundabout to a strait T-shaped intersection, and most call for a monument that welcomes visitors to Traverse City.

“I don’t know if this is the best location,” said parks Commissioner Margaret Szajner. “It is for you, but I don’t know if it is for the city.”

Stan Simmons, the Coast Guard committee’s vice chair, said group members considered other alternatives but considered that location as most appropriate. The sculpture could be moved if the city eventually decides to redesign the intersection.

Brian Haas, parks and recreation chairman, said most cities have a process for public art that includes the involvement of art professionals. He recommended the Coast Guard committee seek comments from design professionals, as well as the general public.

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