Dallas considering future of White Rock Lake art that's gone to the birds

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by JANET ST. JAMES

WFAA

Posted on March 21, 2014 at 6:56 PM

DALLAS -- The beauty of White Rock Lake, some say, is marred by a bunch of sticks in the water on the east side.

"It's still a really good perch for birds and everything like that,” said resident Sue Kelso. “But it does sort of look a little bit ugly at times."

The “sticks,” near the lake’s historic bathhouse, were once a very expensive piece of art.

Installed in 2001, the White Rock Lake Water Theatre was designed to be a beautiful stage for birds. Originally, the feature had 43 steel poles, 15 floating fiberglass lily pads, and 20 solar-powered light poles to illuminate the night.

The illuminated poles have long gone dim, the pads floated away, and twelve aluminum wildlife charts to explain the drama are mostly faded.

Many now call this art an eyesore.

"There are people who adore this piece,” said David Fisher, Dallas’ assistant director of cultural affairs, “and there are people who are less than enthusiastic about it."

Fisher said the city of Dallas is now considering what to do with it. The choices are removal or overhaul. Removal would cost about $11,000.

That's the less expensive option.

"To completely redesign, re-fabricate, improve, and make it a 21st-century, new piece, could be a couple hundred thousand dollars,” Fisher said.

He said a lot of the cost depends on how extensive the overhaul gets. Low-to-no maintenance is also an important consideration, given fiscal responsibility to taxpayers and limited budgets.

The only “free” option is leaving the art to the birds, to deteriorate naturally. The area is not used for swimming or boating.

The Cultural Affairs Department is gathering input on the issue. Two meetings are scheduled at the Bath House Cultural Center at 10 a.m. Saturday morning and at 7 p.m. Monday, March 24.

E-mail jstjames@wfaa.com

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