Thursday, January 25, 2007

Late opposition may upset plan for $50,000 steel flower garden

[Source: Carol Sowers, Arizona Republic] -- Scottsdale plans to spend $50,000 to erect a garden of steel flowers whirling atop 10- to 15-foot poles in a southern neighborhood as part an energetic revitalization program. But late-blooming opposition to the Cox Heights "garden," planned for Monte Vista and Hayden roads, could stall the project long enough to jeopardize its city funding. No one denies that the brightly colored flowers are whimsical and different from the standard horse statues that adorn the gateways to many Scottsdale neighborhoods. Some residents of the older neighborhood fancy the idea of wind-driven steel flowers, twirling behind a plastic picket fence. Others call it an eyesore.

Valerie Vadala Homer, of the Scottsdale Cultural Council, which oversees such projects, said members were blindsided by the protest. The plan had been presented to neighbors in September, but opposition didn't bubble up until December. "We were so far into the project and were not aware of the opposition," she said. So the council invited Cox Heights residents to its Wednesday meeting to hear more. Nine residents at the meeting were for the project; four were against. Still, there is enough ill will to try to find a compromise, says the council's Jana Weldon, who oversees the steel garden. But talk takes time and officials had hoped to have the garden planted by June 30, the end of Scottsdale's fiscal year. If not, the funding may evaporate, Weldon said. Plenty of people like the garden the way it is. Myron Brower who spoke in favor of the flowers called them "contextual art," a symbol of the rebirth of south Scottsdale over the past three years.

[Note: To read the full article, click here. Photo by David Rencher.]