Allen median art: Exquisite or excessive?




Posted on October 18, 2012 at 10:34 PM

Updated Friday, Oct 19 at 8:57 AM

ALLEN -- First, it was a $60-million high school football stadium.

Voters overwhelmingly approved it. But there were those who called it excessive.

Now, a $700,000 project designed to make roadway medians near the stadium beautiful is the talk of the town, especially the unique artwork.

The $200,000 artwork along Exchange Parkway is supposed to symbolize the growth of Allen over time, using a mix of limestone, stainless steel and color-changing glass. The highlight is a giant letter "A."

The median beautification project cost another $500,000.

"I am completely underwhelmed," said Doug Gallagher, a former Allen City Council member. "We have a lot of other projects I think we could be doing, and $700,000 is a lot of money."

On the Allen Online social network, the Exchange Parkway art is a hot topic of debate. It's been called everything from ugly, a joke, and odd, to a head scratcher and embarrassing.

"You know, to me, I think the citizens of Allen are really saying enough of that kind of thing," said Joel Blaylock, an Allen taxpayer. "We really want to spend the money as wisely as we can. And I'm not sure everybody's happy spending that kind of money for that product right now."

Allen's Parks and Recreation Director Tim Dentler told us the artwork goes through a very public process during the planning phase.

"Some people like it, some people don't," Dentler said. "That's the beauty of art."

As for the cost, Dentler said it’s well worth it.

"Public art is an expensive proposition, especially when there are engineers and architects using stone and steel," he said.

Joel Blaylock said it would look better in a park.

"You're driving 50-to-60 miles per hour down the road," Blaylock said. "I'm not sure you really get time to really appreciate it."

Dentler said the city is paying a premium price for a valuable commodity: a unique work of art.

But if beauty is in the eye of the beholder, there are quite a few beholders in Allen who aren't seeing beauty in the latest masterpiece.