Proposed new art for south Queensgate roundabout

Update: Deputy City Manager Joe Schiessl responded to the Observer’s question about water infrastructure in the Queensgate roundabouts.

The Observer apologizes to readers for mistakenly reporting that the Richland City Council’s joint workshop with the Port of Benton commissioners at 4 pm Tuesday was the only workshop of the day. The council had a second workshop at the regular 6 pm time at Richland City Hall.

A video of the 6 pm, June 27 meeting is available at Richland City View.

At the second meeting the council had a longer discussion about the art in the Queensgate roundabouts than about the Hanford Communities annual update and the budget process review combined.

It’s no secret that Mayor Terry Christensen was annoyed that the Richland Arts Commission had chosen the art with little input from the council. He seemed determined that the council would have an opportunity to register its opinion if there were any changes.

A city survey on public art found that many responders did not like the roundabout art. One person wrote that the art at the north roundabout looked like someone leaving Home Depot had “lost their load.”

Parks and Public Facilities Director Laura Hester explained to the councilmembers the importance of location, scale and color to roundabout art. The art currently there is too small and blends into the background, she said.

The family of Bernard Hosey, who died in 2012, has offered to donate pieces of his sculptures for the roundabout and Hester presented slides showing what the large red pieces would look like in the center of the traffic circles.

Councilmember Ryan Lukson responded, “It could be a distraction… I’m not sure there’s an ability to even appreciate it.” He asked about alternatives such as trees.

The Observer reached out to City Manager Jon Amundson to learn if there was water supplied to the center of the roundabouts as supplemental water would be required for any plantings in them. Deputy City Manager Joe Schiessl replied that currently there is no water infrastructure serving the Queensgate roundabouts.

Councilmember Shayne VanDyke said that he was worried about the elevation of the art. “What’s below it,” he said, “I’d love to see a different place to put the art and actually wouldn’t mind seeing it come down, or the elevation come down a little bit, so we can see what’s on those roundabouts better.”

Hester responded, that art like that proposed is not usually a safety hazard because drivers see it from a distance and don’t look at it as they go around the circle.

The council agreed to continue the discussion about the roundabout art and moved on to considering art for the fitness facility to be built at Howard Amon Park.

The fitness facility art proposed has examples of agriculture and other items and landmarks from the region. The council agreed that the kiwi fruit and the windmills should be removed from it.