Saratoga County

Saratoga Springs site of Sept. 11 art still in talks

City officials are considering other locations for a Sept. 11 commemorative sculpture after learning

City officials are considering other locations for a Sept. 11 commemorative sculpture after learning there is some opposition to installing the large steel sculpture near the city Visitor Center.

“We are trying to find the best location in the city,” Mayor Scott Johnson said Monday.

Some people think the city Fire Department station on Lake Avenue might be a more appropriate location for the sculpture, he said, adding that discussion of the sculpture site continues.

“We are considering the opposing views,” Johnson said.

“Tempered by Memory,” a 25-foot sculpture being created out of twisted steel from the World Trade Center, was first planned to be erected near the front of the Saratoga Springs City Center on Broadway. The sculpture is an artistic memorial to those who lost their lives in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks as well as the families they left behind.

Saratoga Arts Inc. — sponsor of the project, which is being funded through donations, not tax dollars — decided a month ago that the City Center location was too small for the size of the large work of art.

Saratoga Arts, formerly the Saratoga County Council on the Arts, then proposed a location on the Congress Street side of the Visitor Center at Broadway and Congress Street.

The City Council reviewed this location and it appeared to be the preferred site until opposition surfaced. The city’s Design Review Commission approved the Visitor Center site in a unanimous vote July 20. The state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation reviewed the location and said the site would have “no adverse impact on historic resources.”

Johnson said he met with representatives of Saratoga Arts Inc. and the Heritage Area Advisory Board on Monday to discuss the location.Some members of the Heritage Area Advisory Board suggested the fire station would be a better location for the sculpture.

Saratoga Arts Inc. and city officials are still convinced that the Visitor Center location would be the best site. The final decision on the location will be made by the City Council.

“Our first choice is the visitor center,” said Joel Reed, executive director of Saratoga Arts Inc.

Lewis Benton, a former city parks and historic preservation director, thinks the Visitor Center location would be inappropriate for the steel sculpture.

“It will compromise or break the aesthetic connection between the Spa State Park and Congress Park (particularly the Trask Memorial) that the Visitor Center plays a key role in linking,” Benton said in an email.

Benton said the Visitor Center, which was built in 1915 and once called the Drink Hall, is designated a “city landmark.” He believes that having the sculpture installed near the Visitor Center requires review under the State Environmental Quality Review Act. Johnson on Monday said city officials are investigating the need for SEQRA review but he said this requirement appeared to be “questionable.”

Some local artists also criticized how Saratoga Arts Inc. chose the two local artists — John Van Alstine and Noah Savett — who are creating “Tempered by Memory” at a studio in Northumberland. They maintain there should have been requests for proposals and a competitive, juried process used to select the artists.

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