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Public art for stadium, park, bridge approved

Two bronze, larger-than-life figures in Union Memorial Park, artwork around the new Mud Hens stadium, and sculptures on the land surrounding the planned I-280 high-level bridge over the Maumee River are the public art acquisitions expected this year by the Arts Commission of Greater Toledo.

Heather Rohrs, executive director of the commission, yesterday presented its Arts in Public Places program for 2001 to the Toledo plan commission. The arts commission administers the city's publicly funded arts program, which locates sculptures and other artwork in public places citywide.

The arts commission must present its annual program to the plan commission for approval. The plan commission unanimously approved the 2001 program.

Plan commission Chairman Steve Serchuk suggested that the arts commission, as it formulates its 2002 program, consider public artwork projects at the city's entrances. Improvement of the gateways is a recommendation of Toledo 20/20, the city's master plan for development, he said.

Plan commission member Robert Savage agreed. “They have the ability to enhance the revitalization not only of the neighborhoods, but also downtown,” he said.

Ms. Rohrs said the commission has hired consultants to review and update its public art master plan, which was formulated in 1995. The arts commission is providing the consultants with a copy of the 20/20 plan to take into consideration while they review the master plan and make recommendations, she said.

Ms. Rohrs said the commission budgeted $98,000 to acquire pieces of public art in 2001.

The bronze statues at Union Memorial Park, Champlain and Elm streets, which depict two striking workers, by Everett, Wash., artist Hai Ying Wu, were being installed yesterday and will be dedicated with the park tomorrow. They cost $14,000.

For the Mud Hens stadium in downtown Toledo, Ms. Rohrs said the commission has issued a request for artists to submit design proposals for the public areas around the stadium, which is to open in spring, 2002. The arts commission budgeted $54,000 for that work.

The remaining $30,000 of this year's acquisition budget will be used for artwork on the 47 acres of public land that will become available for reuse after the high-level bridge is completed, said Rory Shanley-Brown, an arts commission board member.

Ms. Shanley-Brown, who is a member of the Maumee River Crossing bridge project, said the commission is working to ensure that the acreage can be reused in a way to allow residents more access to the riverfront.

The $30,000 is the first part of what is expected to be a multi-year funding for art acquisitions for the area.

In other action, the plan commission voted against requests by property owner Talal Esho for a special use permit and a drive-up window permit for land on Indiana Avenue.

Mr. Esho, who owns a vacant lot at 1449 Indiana, at Detroit Avenue, wants to build a gas station and convenience store with a drive-up window there.

The plan commission staff recommended the commission approve the usage, subject to various conditions. However, neighbors from the area voiced opposition to the project.

Roy Allen, pastor of Family Church, and Richard Bray, assistant director of Organized Neighbors Yielding eXcellence, Inc., said they are concerned the site would become a hangout for undesirables and cause problems with drugs and drinking in the area.

Attorney Charles Stupsker, who represented Mr. Esho, told the commission his client operates a service station at Central and Detroit avenues without problems to the neighborhood.

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