Despite pleas, time runs out
by Cheryl Gilman
Despite Stuart Rupp's ongoing pleas that the Arcade Plaza fountain
not be destroyed or moved, the City Council moved forward on
the redesign of the Arcade Plaza at Tuesday night's City Council
Rupp maintains that the fountain is a significant art piece that
reflects the culture of Ojai. He said, "It is the only art
piece that Wilson created that exists, and its water music helps
you relax." Ojai resident Zelma Wilson was the first female
architect allowed into the American Society of Architects.
Rupp came prepared with more than 1,000 signatures from people
who wanted the fountain to remain. "Half of those people
live in Ojai," he said, "the others come from as far
away as Europe." He said he had surveyed customers and residents.
Rupp and his recently deceased wife, Nancy, have advertised their
studio with pictures of the fountain on their brochures and Web
site. Rupp said, "I have been treasurer of the Downtown
Merchants' Association for over
seven years. I don't know why I wasn't told of the plan to remove
the fountain before it was voted on. The project seems to have
been rushed through. I propose to just leave the fountain where
it is and it won't change the design of the redevelopment of
Bea Dawson, owner of Noah's Apothecary, said, "The fountain
draws so many people on a Sunday afternoon. It's a very cool
and energetic place to be."
Richard Keit said, "The fountain is an unsung tradition
for a lot of people who like to congregate there while waiting
for seating at Bonnie Lu's. Children play around it. I suggest
we renovate the fountain at our cost. Let's look at it as 70
percent complete and leave the fountain there and allow us to
Bill Miley said, "I knew Zelma Wilson in '68. Twenty years
ago there must have been a lot of energy and love in the city.
The fountain needs to be cared for and loved. If we maintain
it, it won't need to be replaced. It can have its teeth brushed
and hair combed by the city staff."
Councilmember Joe DeVito said, "We need to do whatever we
can to have the fountain moved. And we have not rushed through
the project. It has been in the making for over three years and
there have been numerous public hearings."
Councilmember Sue Horgan said, "I stand behind my vote for
the Arcade project because I think it is an excellent plan. I
do support looking for another place for the fountain and relocating
Councilmember Rae Hanstad said, "I am not interested in
adding significant costs to relocate the fountain. I still stand
behind my original vote for the new design of the Arcade Plaza
and don't think it should be delayed."
Councilmember David Bury said, "We will still have the water
music and intimacy behind Bonny Lu's." A new fountain,
sculpture and seating will be in that space. "I support
relocation of the existing fountain also."
Mayor Olsen agreed and said, "I think the city should contribute
to moving this significant piece."
In her report to the council on the project's status, Redevelopment
Director Kathy McCann said, "While it is not staff's recommendation
that the plan be revisited or reconsidered, it may be possible
to preserve rather than demolish the existing fountain, and remove
it to another site for installation ... The city has already
been approached by Bernd Dressler about locating the fountain
at his new project site (on Bryant Circle). Alternatively, if
an attractive public location is not available, the council could
surplus the fountain allowing any private citizen to reconstruct
Due to the importance of this project, the city solicited public
involvement from the project's inception in 1997, including an
ad hoc steering committee comprised of an agency member, Arcade
merchant and members from the arts, planning and redevelopment
commissions as well as city staff. The project consultants, RRM
Design Group, conducted informal interviews with property owners,
merchants, City Council members, city staff and key stakeholders
including redevelopment staff, the Ojai Chamber of Commerce and
Community members participated in an interactive disposable camera
survey. In this survey they took photographs of conditions members
would like to or like not to see in the plaza. A community questionnaire
was distributed to merchants, property owners and community members
to solicit a broad range of input early in the process. Two Arcade
Plaza newsletters were mailed to property owners and hand-delivered
to plaza business owners. Additionally, the agency and commissions
have held numerous public workshops and public hearings over
the last several years to invite public participation and input
on each phase of the project.
Due to the large scale of the project and its potential for disruption
to the downtown area, the Arcade Plaza project manager and City
Redevelopment analyst will have offices on site throughout the
duration of the project. They hope that this will mitigate potential
issues and problems, and provide open communication and direct
access to staff by arcade merchants and property owners. The
city staff has also contacted all utility companies to coordinate
any work to be done during the demolition and post-demolition
phase of the project.
McCann recommended that the council authorize the city staff
to prepare specifications and call for bids for the project.
The council unanimously approved. These bids are due back by
the end of February. Construction is to begin in March and to
be completed by November.
© 2002 The Ojai Valley News
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