Our Arts Commissioners have heard a lot of objections to the project proposed for the Village Entrance, and we appreciate their willingness to explore some of them before approving it. However, we’d like to see them take one more step. Whatever the merits of the design, this is the wrong place for the Fornes structure, and we encourage them to accept that and investigate other options.
In all the years it has taken to realize the community’s vision of the Village Entrance, there has never been talk of an assembly structure of this size. The vision from the beginning has been of a green, pedestrian-friendly space, and the final plan sacrificed parking spaces to produce the landscaped areas it has today.
The proposed structure has been described as “not an art piece but a building,” and installing it would require removing the existing landscaping and apparently one of the rammed-earth benches that echo the wall on the Festival grounds, certainly at considerable expense. Commissioners insist that they are following the cultural arts placemaking study, but what that study (adopted after the contract for the Village Entrance was signed) suggests is three places for a removable tent that might shelter activities on the site. One of them is next to the historic digester, which we and many other Lagunans would like to see repurposed as the kind of gathering place commissioners have in mind. The Village Entrance is only one of several sites the study considers, the others being the Festival of Arts grounds (in fact a public park), the Sawdust Festival, and the Main Beach cobblestones. Commissioners are not really required to build this structure on this particular spot.
Wedging it into the space between the highway and the creek would be a costly mistake, and it seems to us unlikely to meet even the commissioners’ own expectations. In the other cities that display the artist’s work, there seems to be more space available for its proper appreciation. As close as the structure will be to the road, it may be hard to hear what’s going on inside it, and holding events there would appear to raise a number of problems (no restrooms, for one).
We implore the commissioners to listen to what their fellow Lagunans are saying and let us enjoy the Village Entrance we’ve waited so long for.
Johanna Felder, Laguna Beach, Village Laguna President