Altered ‘Fine Balance’ Artwork Gets Petaluma City Council Approval

The controversial public art project at the center of a six-year debate in Petaluma moved ahead on Monday night after a proposed new location for the project won substantial support from local residents.

At their May 16 meeting, city council members unanimously gave the go-ahead for the construction of “Fine Balance” by San Francisco-based artist Brian Goggin in H Street Pocket Park near from the Petaluma River waterfront. The amended proposal, which was approved by Petaluma’s public art committee in late March, calls for two clawfoot tub sculptures supported by stilts instead of the original five tub sculptures.

“I’m excited about the compromise,” board member Brian Barnacle said in a Tuesday morning phone interview. “Whether you like it or not, you’re probably going to see it and talk about it with people, and that’s what public art is supposed to do. So I’m glad to see the closure, I’m glad to see it being installed.

The modified project, Petaluma’s first commissioned piece of public art, comes after an initial $150,000 proposal in 2016 for five overwater bathtub sculptures to be erected on the Water Street promenade that intersects East Washington Street, and has since stimulated heated exchanges due to location and design. concerns.

In September, city council was set to approve an $85,000 environmental impact report for the original site, but after being heavily pushed back by concerns over reduced access to Water Street, city council sent public art committee members go back to the drawing board to find a new location, or end the project altogether if the committee hasn’t found a workable solution. Had city council approved the EIR, the move would have brought the project budget to over $230,000.

In the process of choosing an alternate location, Goggin and committee members consulted with nearby residents and business owners, and said they ultimately received a large amount of positive feedback and cooperation from the part of those near the pocket park. According to a staff report, members of the Recreation, Music and Parks Commission also applauded the revised version. plan, citing its burgeoning possibilities “to activate the pocket park by creating a tourist destination” in the city’s warehouse district.

“I think we have a lot of potential there and I’ve met a lot of people changing their minds about it,” said Melissa Abercrombie, chair of the Petaluma Public Art Committee.

While more than a dozen letters sent by residents to the City expressed their enthusiasm, enthusiasm and hope for “Fine Balance”, others remained suspicious of the project’s potential impact on nearby natural resources and the historical sights of the city.

“So much time, energy and funding has gone into the overwater bath project. It’s unfortunate,” former City Council candidate Susan Kirks said in a letter to the City posted on the meeting agenda. Kirks expressed concerns about the environment in the McNear Peninsula area. His letter also calls for the elimination of nighttime lighting around the sculptures so that wildlife can continue to be attracted to the area.

The new vision for “Fine Balance” appears to stay within the proposed budget of $150,000, with nearly $103,000 to spend, and will cover materials and installation, lighting, engineering and contractors’ time. artists.

The project is expected to be fully installed over 15 months, according to the staff report.

Amelia Parreira is an editor for the Argus-Courier. She can be reached at [email protected] or 707-521-5208.