Thursday’s session of the Sound Transit board must have been a busy one. In addition to signing off on the $132.8 million needed to complete a streetcar to Capitol Hill by 2013, we’ve learned that the board also voted to preserve the “1% for art” STart Public Art Program. Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn had cited the possible cutting of the arts program as an example of what other local governmental agency have been considering to overcome growing budget problems. In addition to the art that will be featured in the Broadway station when it is completed in 2016, STart is responsible for the art projects currently on the light rail construction pit wall including the popular Baso Fibonacci mural along 10th Ave pictured here. Thanks to CHS contributor Dotty Decoster for passing along the letter from Larry Phillips, King County Council member and a member of the Sound Transit board, confirming the STart budget’s status.
Dear Ms. Decoster,
Thank you for contacting me in support of Sound Transit’s STart Public Art Program. As a longtime supporter of arts and heritage in our community, I share your strong support of public art and agree that STart has a great track record of utilizing 1% of construction costs to incorporate compelling public art into our community’s regional transit system.
I am pleased to report that on October 28, 2010 the Sound Transit Board voted by a slim majority to preserve the STart program at 1% of ST2 project construction costs. In response to revenue shortfalls, the CEO recommended cutting this program to 0.75%, but I introduced a resolution to the Board to change that recommendation and restore a full 1% for STart. I was honored to speak in favor of restoring this funding level and to join the successful Board vote that keeps STart at 1%.
The projects Sound Transit is building in ST2 will be a part of our communities for generations to come, and I believe that we have only one chance to do this work right. Thus, as Sound Transit deals with an upcoming budget shortfall, we may have to delay or eliminate some projects, but I believe that we must keep quality high on what we do build.
In many cases, art projects help integrate into neighborhoods some transit-related structures that would otherwise be obtrusive and unwelcome, including retaining walls, vent shafts, and power stations. Art projects also help mitigate impacts during construction, helping keep neighborhoods livable during construction and ensuring that what we leave behind is something people can be proud to live near long-term. Additionally, art helps reduce graffiti and promote a safe atmosphere at transit centers and stations. I also had concerns about equity; it would not be fair to people south, north, and east if the central portion of light rail is built to one standard and the future extensions are built to another, lesser standard.
For these reasons and more, I was proud to stand in support of maintaining Sound Transit’s 1% for art, and I am glad we were successful in achieving this goal. Congratulations, and thank you for your advocacy on behalf of public art!
Larry Phillips, Councilmember
Metropolitan King County Council, District Four
Sound Transit Boardmember
King County Courthouse
516 Third Avenue, Room 1200
Seattle, WA 98104-3272