Thursday, December 10, 2015

America's Biggest Boondoggle's Million Dollar Wind Roundabout Ridiculousness

Early last month I was in downtown Fort Worth after which I blogged Downtown Fort Worth's Sleeping Panther Took Me To The Heart Of Darkness Today, in which the Heart of Darkness to which I referred was the Star-Telegram building with the Trinity River Vision Headquarters occupying the ground floor.

It was at that point I realized the degree to which Fort Worth's embarrassing newspaper of record was in cahoots with America's Biggest Boondoggle.

Today the Star-Telegram provided another example of this embarrassing pseudo newspaper being in cahoots with America's Biggest Boondoggle, that being an article titled Panther Island public artwork to be dedicated Thursday.

This article contains multiple jaw dropping bits of shake your head in wonderment gems.

We'll get to those gems, but first, why does this piece of "artwork", you see above, need a dedication ceremony? Well over a year ago the Trinity River Vision Boondogglers, led my J.D. Granger, had a big ground breaking ceremony, complete with explosions, to mark the late start of the construction of The Boondoggle's three little bridges connecting the Fort Worth mainland to an imaginary island. I verbalized my bumpuzzlement about this bizarre groundbreaking event in A Big Boom Begins Boondoggle Bridge Construction Three Months Late.

In response to that Big Bridge Boom event someone opined that while Fort Worth is a big city of around 800,000 population, the town has a small town mentality, hence making a big deal  over very little.

But, a dedication ceremony for that odd structure in the middle of a roundabout which is still under construction? That is just odd.

Let's go through the Star-Telegram article about the dedication of this important piece of art and opine as we go along....

The first structure on the city’s almost-built Panther Island will be dedicated at 9 a.m. Thursday.

The almost built Panther Island? Almost built? Did the Star-Telegram reporter ask for details as to how this imaginary island is at the point of almost being built?

The premier construction is Wind Roundabout, a 30-foot kinetic sculpture by California-based artist Ned Kahn, which sits in the center of the traffic circle that joins Henderson Street and White Settlement Road. The circular tower is covered in a scrim of hinged aluminum plates that move with the wind and reflect the sunlight during the day and headlights at night.

Premier construction? And its name is "Wind Roundabout"?  So, this work of art is a big shiny thing in the center of a location by which cars will be passing. Will this reflective light be distracting? Will this reflective light possibly be blinding? Could this reflective light possibly lead to an accident? Has the city considered its potential liability in allowing the installation of this potentially dangerous literal eyesore?

Wind Roundabout will be in the center of Panther Island’s west island. Currently, the entire area is a massive construction project that will encompass three new bridges over the Trinity River and a bypass channel of water that will separate 800 acres north of downtown into Panther Island.

What? This light reflector is at the center of Panther Island's west island? There is a west island? Does this mean there is also an east island? Why does the Star-Telegram reporter not elaborate on such a puzzlement? The entire area is a massive construction project? Really? I have seen a massive construction project in action. What is going on at The Boondoggle location is not a massive construction project. The area where some construction is under way is very small.

While the ribbon-cutting moment may seem premature — the sculpture lacks landscaping, and the roads are still being built for the roundabout — it had to be done now, Granger said. “It seemed to make sense to have the piece put in, even though it is still a construction zone so we don’t interrupt traffic in the future,” he said. “Plus, the longer we wait, the costs would go up.”

Ribbon cutting moment  might be premature? How about not needed at all in a normal  big city. So, even though the roundabout is still an unfinished mess this dedication had to take place now, according to Kay Granger's son, the highly qualified project engineer, J.D., because it seemed to make sense, because the cost of doing this dedication would go up if it was postponed. Huh? How much is today's Wind Roundabout dedication costing?

Wind Roundabout has a budget of more than $952,230. Even though all of the invoices have not been submitted, Martha Peters, vice president of Fort Worth Public Art, anticipates it will come in under budget. The sculpture is owned by the city and will be maintained by Fort Worth Public Art. It was paid for by the city and the 2 percent Public Art receives from infrastructure projects.

This ridiculous thing cost almost a million bucks! Maybe more, what with invoices still coming in. What a windfall for the creator of this, well, uh, work of art.

While the sculpture project has taken more than 10 years, “this is fast track for a public art pieces,” the artist said. Panther Island (formerly called Trinity Uptown) has been in the planning stages since the 1990s; The Trinity River Vision Master plan was adopted by the City Council in 2003.

10 years? It took 10 years to make this? And that's a fast track? How long did it take France to make the Statue of Liberty?  Panther Island has been in the planning stages since the 1990s? Really? Seems like only a couple years ago Panther Island became The Boondoggle's latest name change.

After a slow start, the creation of Panther Island is becoming more of a reality as the massive earth-moving equipment carves the new river bypass channel. Granger said that with the activity came the developers. The area is being constantly recorded by video cameras so progress can be watched in real time on the Trinity River Vision website.

Really? A slow start? And now the project is just zipping along? Panther Island is becoming more of a reality rather than a pipe dream, as earth moving equipment carves the bypass channel? With the activity came the developers? What activity? What developers? Anyone seen of this happening? I was just through that area a couple weeks ago. I saw no earth moving going on. I saw nothing going on. A camera is recording the project's progress and can be viewed live? Well, I guess that would hold some appeal to anyone who has enjoyed watching paint dry.

Kahn was chosen to create a piece of public art for Panther Island 10 years ago. When the roundabouts were designed, he chose one for his sculpture.

So, years before this Panther Island thing was foisted on the people this Kahn guy was chosen to make a sculpture, which he began work on, 10 years ago, and eventually chose as its location the one and only roundabout under construction. Yeah, that all sounds reasonable.

I will compress into one paragraph the Kahn creator's words about his work of art....

“This whole idea of orbiting around this thing, and for it to be equally interesting from all angles, was interesting to me,” he said. In his previous works, there was a definitive boundary between the architecture and the sculpture. Here, the sculpture is the architecture, and it morphs as the environment and time of day changes. Sometimes it is transparent; sometimes it is opaque. The stronger the wind, the more it moves. He has placed many of his kinetic panels on the sides of buildings where the wind ripples across the surface, making visible what is invisible. The psychological effect of watching the wind play across his pieces “is similar to watching a fire, waves on a lake or tall grasses swaying in the wind,” Kahn said. Kahn has tested his structures under the most adverse weather conditions, and he admits he was impressed by the Texas winds. He said that by adhering to the proportions found in nature — making his little panels no larger than tree leaves, for example — his structures can withstand hail and strong winds. “This was like creating a building — an entirely useless building permeable to light, wind and rain,” he said. “It is sort of a gossamer ghost.”

Like creating an entirely useless building? The useless building creates a psychological effect similar to watching a fire? Yeah, that sounds like a good idea. Put a big thing in the center of a roundabout that looks like a fire.

Like I already said. Road hazard.

Anyway, just when you think America's Biggest Boondoggle and its partner in civic irresponsibility, the Star-Telegram, can  not get any more ridiculous, somehow they manage to do so.....


Steve A said...

Actually, the Statue of Liberty took about 15 years to construct and erect. However, I don't recall Durango mentioning that the Statue of Liberty was built on a REAL island!

Anonymous said...

From The Judas Sheep by Francis Duggan

In the Human World are born leaders too just like the judas sheep
And for themselves and their close kin huge financial rewards they reap
But humans have a sense of right and wrong and a sense of guilt and shame or so we have been told
And some of our leaders are far more narcissistic and at heart far more cold