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Arlington County Board Decision on Sewage Plant Will Flush Taxpayer Dollars for Sake of Public Art

According to a January 10, 2004 county press release, the Arlington County Board approved spending between $2.0 and $3.0 million in taxpayer dollars for "aesthetic improvements and educational components." According to Board chairman Barbara Favola, this will "convey the important environmental stewardship role that the plant plays in our community . . . Improving the aesthetics is also an important goal for this Arlington gateway." These "aesthetic improvements" (i.e., public art) " are estimated to cost between $2.0 and $3.0 million," according to the Manager's report to the Board (Adobe Reader required); total cost of the plant, including the public art portion, is estimated to be $250 million +/- 40%. The Manager reports that feedback from residents living near the plant indicated their concern about the plant's appearance. Growls first reported on this in August 2003 after the Washington Post reported it. We understand the need to provide the plant with an appropriate appearance, but we question the need for "rooftop gardens" and "interpretive kiosks." In our opinion, it's nothing more than "gvernment for the government by the government paid for by 'guess who.'"

A "thump" on the head to the Manager, too, for saying in his report to the Board that the $2.0 million to $3.0 million cost for public art is "beyond a basic utilitarian approach." Since the estimated cost is between $150 million to $350 million (i.e., $250 million +/- 40%), how does the Manager know the cost of a purely 'utilitarian' approach?


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