Claremont Insider: More Village Expansion Mail

Sunday, December 23, 2007

More Village Expansion Mail

A regular visitor to Claremont wrote in with some comments from an outsider's perspective (not unimportant to the city given the push to attact outside dollars to the Claremont Village and Village Expansion).

The reader makes note of the new fountain in the Village Expansion Plaza in front of the Laemmle Theatres (the Courier had an article on the fountain back on December 12th, but the article isn't posted online yet):

New Shiny Toy Art - Makes A Dangerous Fountain

I have visited the city of Claremont once a year since about 1978. My wife, children, and now grand children and I have enjoyed this gem in Southern California that has a very intelligent community and a beautiful environment at the base of the San Gabriel Mountains.

During our visit this year, we were pleased to see the expansion of your village taking promising shape. As I sat with a friend in the new outdoor plaza, however, I could not help notice the careless and dangerous design of the fountain. What is going on here?

The local newspaper then featured an article explaining your city's intent and what has gone into the project. Some interesting quotes in the article invited a public response, so I have taken the time to draw the community's attention to the obvious. Please read their quotes and contemplate what I have to share.

"Hopefully we can instigate some conversations between strangers and discussions on what people think it means to them," Mr. Otterness said. "These things are not just about what the artist's interpretation is. The public can always come to their own conclusions."

INSTIGATING SOME CONVERSATION: The art looks like shiny toys. The fountain is built in such a way that a small child can climb it like a play set and it is made out of hard concrete blocks with sharp corners. The water sits in pocket areas on the fountain that create a slippery surface and over time will grow a moss that will be extremely slippery. Now, as I am older, I would not, or rather could not, climb this thing but I did walk close to the fountain and almost fell in. In the hours I was in the plaza, I watched as more than a dozen children saw the shiny toy bait and rushed for their newly discovered playground. More than half of them fell in.

PUBLIC CONCLUSION: There are safety standards for a playground. If you are going to make an area to attract children, then make it safe by those standards. If you are going to make a fountain with a sculpture, then make something that represents the community in a way that is interesting to look at, rather than interesting to play with or climb on. Also, are there not several famous artists local to Claremont? What about a sculpture that has the look and feel of Mt. Baldy or the history of your town?

"The fountain will circulate its water and has very little splashing so that minimal water is wasted, said Senior Redevelopment Planner Chris Veirs. The construction of the fountain, including installation and design, cost the city $250,000."

INSTIGATING SOME CONVERSATION: Saying that this fountain has little water waste is like saying you are for helping the environment, while driving an SUV. How much water does it use monthly? How much electricity does it use monthly? The cost of construction and maintenance for this fountain is devastating. $250,000 could buy a small house, but Claremont got duped into a dangerous fountain with shiny toys. Is this Senior Redevelopment Planner responsible, or did the new City Council put together this ridicules waste of funds?

"It's very Claremont," Mr. Veirs said. "I think that it's a pretty good match contextually for our community."

INSTIGATING SOME CONVERSATION: I have never met this Mr. Veirs but I would questions anyone that would say this fountain is a pretty good match contextually for Claremont. I don't see how it represents anything about your community at all. The fountain does contextually represent a city that is not seriously in touch with the community it is supposed to be working for. I looked up Claremont California on the Internet and found the Wikipedia description. Contextually this is the town you live in:

"Claremont California is a city in eastern Los Angeles County, California, USA, about 30 miles (45 km) east of downtown Los Angeles at the base of the San Gabriel Mountains in the Pomona Valley. The population, as of 2000 is 33,999. Claremont is known for its seven higher-education institutions, its tree-lined streets, and its historic buildings.[1] In July 2007 it was rated by Money magazine as the fifth best place to live in the United States, and was the highest rated place in California on the list.[2] Due to its large number of trees and residents with doctorates, it is known as "The City of Trees and PhD's."[3]"

PUBLIC CONCLUSION: As I do not live in Claremont, there is probably little I can do but point out how your community is not being represented very well, if this is the quality of work you get. Please stand up and take action. Let your city know that you expect better. Mr. Veirs and others who are responsible for this nonsense should be encourage to get a planner job that is better suited for them - such as Disneyland or Toys R Us. Be proud and preserve the great town you live in.