Open letter to City of Ashland

From Lloyd Haines

Martha Bennett, City Administrator John Morrison, Mayor City of Ashland Ashland, Oregon

Re: Mural Installation, Water Street

Dear Martha, John and David:

First, let me apologize for the ruckus I have created.

Lights out for illegal murals —

Although I do want the City to modify its anti-mural ordinance, I did not intend to complicate the jobs of City employees. In retrospect, the manner in which I chose to address the Sign Code issue may not have been the best course of action. Please know that no City employee had any fore knowledge of this installation, and I accept full responsibility for any and all consequences of my actions.

A brief history may be in order at this juncture. In September 2005, ODOT issued a permit for the benefit of the City, to permit the redevelopment of their right-of-way along Main Street, Water Street and Lithia Way. This permit included paving, walkway, plants, fencing, electrical, lighting, the “We Are Here” sculpture installation and picnic table installation. With the permission of ODOT and the City, my contractors and I redeveloped the area. Since September 2006, this area has been maintained and controlled by the City.

As you recall, before the reconstruction of this area, people were sleeping under the overpass, drug needles were found regularly and the land was not hospitable for the public. Since I made the improvements, the area has become a vital part of downtown, with people using this urban park on a regular basis. This public art is the last piece of the puzzle and is the culmination of all the good work that has preceded the installation.

The installation did not occur in a vacuum. Well over a year ago, I approached the Ashland Arts Commission and requested they gather local artists to beautify the viaduct. They thought it was a wonderful idea until approaching the Planning Department. The Commission was informed they would have to traverse the planning process, procure a conditional use permit, and address the restrictive sign ordinance. They chose to walk away from the project.

I have conferred with a structural engineer about the affect, if any, the artwork and lighting will have on the structural integrity of the bridge. I have been assured there is no adverse impact on the structure.

The engineer and I will meet with ODOT within the next few days to address any questions they have. Please be assured, the paintings will be removed immediately if there is a question of safety.

Local artists, who were asked to express their concept of “Joy and Unity,” created the eight paintings that have been installed under the overpass. The public art is spectacular and will be a wonderful addition to downtown Ashland. This public art is presented to the City as a gift, if in fact the City wishes to accept the donation. If the City believes the public art will enhance the beauty of the downtown, accept the gift.

If the City does not want the donation, you may direct me to remove the art and I will do so. I certainly hope the City will accept the gift and benefit from the public art for years to come.

Hopefully, we can find a way to allow Ashland’s citizens and visitors to enjoy this art installation.

Sincerely,

Lloyd Matthew Haines

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