Fountain at issue

To the Journal editor:

The public has recently been informed that the Janye Hiebel memorial fountain will be removed (see the letter to the editor by Downtown Development Authority Board of Directors in the September issue of the Marquette Monthly) and article in the Mining Journal on Aug. 22. This fait accompli raises a number of questions for me, a citizen of Marquette and member of the art community.

1. Who makes decisions of this kind and why was no one of the public, the art community (we do have an Arts and Culture committee and director) or members of the group that paid for this public arts project informed of the problems with the fountain? Was removal really the only solution?

2. Was David Austin, the artist told? I know he has been paid and the fountain isn’t his property. I wonder whose property the fountain actually is? I always considered it public art. Still, should he not be informed and given the opportunity to at least reclaim the trees, instead of having them destroyed? I am an artist and I would certainly be upset if I had commissioned to produce a piece of art and found it gone at a later point.

3. We are told there will be a “replacement water feature” reflecting the spirit of the original fountain. Who will make the decision what this feature will look like, where it will go and who will make it? Shouldn’t the arts community and the major donors who originally gave money for the fountain be involved in this decision? Or should it all be in the hands of the DDA?

I believe the city of Marquette needs a public arts policy that establishes an open and public process for such ventures. Maybe then such fiascos as the one with this fountain can be avoided.

Christine Saari