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Artsy trash containers now set for Boulevard

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Charleston may be getting some artistic trash receptacles, but they won't be installed on Capitol Street as originally planned.

In a compromise City Manager David Molgaard forged two weeks ago between leaders of FestivALL and the Municipal Beautification Commission, the decorative containers will be placed instead along Kanawha Boulevard.

The trash container plan, one of several FestivALL-sponsored public art projects this year, hit a stumbling block a month ago when artist Naomi Bays ran the idea past Beautification members.

Capitol and other downtown streets already have handsome, functional trash containers made by Spencer blacksmith Jeff Fetty, Beautification Chairwoman Mary Jane Vanderwilt told Bays, FestivALL's public art chairwoman. Another member fretted that poorly designed receptacles can pose a homeland security risk.

Vanderwilt later met with Molgaard, mayoral assistant Rod Blackstone, Bays and other city administrators to discuss the issue.

"She expressed concern about Capitol Street, the traditional look of Capitol Street and functionality of the containers," Blackstone said. "It seemed to be a compelling argument.

"At the same time there seems to be an interest in bringing art to the mundane, which was the concept behind the bike racks last year," said Blackstone, who serves on the FestivALL steering committee. "That's what the FestivALL folks had in mind when they came up with the idea for the trash containers this year.

"I think David Molgaard was the key to bringing the folks together and reaching a compromise. It will help us preserve the look they've been developing for years on Capitol Street and still have some artistic expression along the riverbank."

The receptacles will be installed along the Boulevard between Haddad Park and Magic Island, Vanderwilt told Beautification members Tuesday.

"That would be appropriate," she said. "We need them there because of all the events."

Molgaard said it has taken 20 years to get the Fetty-designed receptacles installed throughout the downtown historic district.

"As Mrs. Vanderwilt pointed out, there was a lot of consideration ... these were specifically made for Charleston. They're well-constructed. Before we change them, it makes sense to put [the artistic receptacles] where we really need them."

The dozen or more containers Bays hopes to get this summer with grant money would be enough to put one at the top of each riverbank stairway between Haddad Park and Magic Island, Molgaard said.

"If it works, we could consider doing them along the entire Boulevard to 35th Street," he said.

"It is certainly a way to tie in two parts detailed in our [riverfront] master plan -- Magic Island and Riverfront Park, and to tie in the Peer to Pier murals under the interstate.

"FestivALL is about the whole city becoming a work of art," Molgaard said. "I understand that Capitol Street is the focal point, but you can almost load up that street with too much art."

Reach Jim Balow at balow@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5102.


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