Dear Mayor Waluk and Members ofthe City Council:
As of today, November 1st, Scott Wheeler still has not received the proposed landscape plan for Maya Lin's art installation for Queen Anne Square from the Newport Restoration Foundation.
Key features continue to be missing from the scale model which has been on view at the library only since last Monday evening: there are no benches with backs (even though Ms. Lin promised to provide examples as long ago as August), there are no garbage cans, there is no indication of where the fountain goes. There is no little stand for the doggie poop bags. The omission ofgarbage cans and doggie-bag stand may sound trival compared to the huge omission of the fountain and the benches with backs, but the combined totality of their absence undermines confidence that the scale model reflects reality.
Furthermore, the scale model shows a very tall chimney with a fireplace. The word on the street is that the chimney/fireplace will not be part of the final plan, perhaps because, as several people have suggested, an open fireplace, even if it is nonworking, is asking for trouble.
In fact, "Asking for Trouble" might be a good title for Ms. Lin's now unnamed Art Installation since her fake foundations seem destined to be over-size trash receptacles (or even urinals! ) that will lure skate boarders to their surfaces and may inspire others to make imaginative use ofthese stone bunkers at night. (The lighting design for the floors ofthe foundations remains a thorny problem since whatever light emanates from within the walls can be blocked by a few backpacks, books or items ofclothing.)
For Ms. Lin, all her art installation has to do is provide a hefty paycheck and a photograph for her website. But we Newporters will have to live with it. And we will also have to live with the knowledge that in order to install Ms. Lin's fake history, Queen Anne Square's real history will be sadly and irrevocably compromised.
Beautiful old-growth trees that Doris Duke planted will be killed. The boulders Ms. Duke brought from her home Roughpoint will be removed. And for what? An art installation designed by a woman who calls our beautiful and much-enjoyed Queen Anne Square "unwelcoming" and "empty"?
I believe that should Maya Lin's redesign for Queen Anne Square be adopted, the local, national and international scrutiny that will fall on this poorly conceived project will turn all the pluses that were touted at the press conference at Rough Point last May into minuses.
Maya Lin will be a minns:
Even though the proponents of Ms. Lin's design would like to forget about her design for the Bicentennial Park for the University of Ohio at Athens, Ohio, "Punch Card Park" will not go away. There are many parallels with her design for Queen Anne Square Park: an insensitivity to the history ofthe site; a design that combines high maintenance with safety concerns; and an unwillingness to provide the kind of amenities that make a park comfortable and accessible, to wit: benches with backs. Finally and most troubling is that Maya Lin's plan is not green.She has a reputation as an environmentalist, but what kind of environmentalist would kill beautiful old growth trees, and take out almost 2,000 square feel of green grass (down fi'om the 4,000 square feet in her original proposal, and create stone foundations that will be a drain on electricity to light.
The 3.5 million dollar "gift" will be a minus
When Newporters find out that none of the 3.5 million dollars is coming to the City, they may feel they have been misled. Furthermore, the amount seems inflated for the work that is to be done.
Then there is the question of the rectitude of spending so much money to destroy a park in the name of an Art Installation during rough economic times.
Trinity Square's approval of Maya Lin's plan will be a minus In fact, the congregation of Trinity was not consulted and there are rumblings of alarm at what the front lawn of Trinity will look like without the little garden that serves as a buffer between the public part ofQueen Anne Square and Trinity's part ofthe park.
The lack of opportunity for public workshops will be a minus
From the time Maya Lin's design was announced at a press conference at the end of May twelve weeks passed before there was a Public Workshop at City Hall. Even though there have been major concerns raised about the environmental and ecological impact of the Maya Lin plan, no other workshop has been scheduled. A scale model was not available until last Monday.
FromMay through the end of October, the only image of the proposed re-make of Queen Anne Square was a blurry watercolor that seemed to depict Queen Anne Square as glimpsed through heavy fog.
I look forward to talking to the Mayor and Council members about the above.
Ms. Sidney Long
18 Rhode Island Avenue
The above was submitted to City Council members, and appears on their Nov. 9 docket.