Chattanooga to spend $32,500 for blue rhinoceros on wheels

Chattanooga to spend $32,500 for blue rhinoceros on wheels

October 5th, 2011 by Naomi Jagoda in News

Chattanooga artist John Petrey

Chattanooga artist John Petrey

POLL: Do you think Chattanooga should spend $32,500 on the statue?

The Chattanooga City Council agreed to buy a big blue rhinoceros on wheels Tuesday night.

The statue, "Blue Boy Pull Toy #1," has been on display for two years in Coolidge Park. The city plans to purchase it from local artist John Petrey for $32,500.

Some council members in the agenda session questioned the decision to buy the piece of public art.

Councilwoman Deborah Scott said the council should consider priorities in a recession.

"Some people in my district don't make that much a year. Actually, a lot of people," she said. "$32,000 is significant."

Local sculptor Isaac Duncan, a member of the public art committee, said the body has been mindful of the economic downturn and has refrained from making purchases in recent years. However, he said, buying this piece would be an investment in local business and an asset to the city.

"We are small businesses that do custom works," Duncan said of local artists. "Every time I get paid, I'm reinvesting it."

Scott, Jack Benson and Pam Ladd voted against the measure. Council members Manny Rico, Andraé McGary, Peter Murphy, Russell Gilbert and Carol Berz voted in favor of it.

In other business, the council voted to send texting while driving citations to City Court. The ordinance passed unanimously on second reading.

The council also is slated to vote next week on a proposed special exception to the city's light industrial zoning that would allow for ethanol facilities. Members briefly discussed the matter in agenda session, and County Commissioner Tim Boyd appeared before the full body to oppose the measure.

Staff writer Ansley Haman contributed reporting to this article.

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