January 21 2020

Sculpture Park Plans Hit Snag with Grand View Farm Site

By: Tad Stephanak

Adjustments are needed for the prospective Burlington Sculpture Park.

In November the Burlington Sculpture Park Subcommittee was given the go ahead by the Board of Selectmen to proceed with plans for a Sculpture Park on the plot of land between the Burlington Police station and the Grand View Farm. The subcommittee, working with the New England Sculpture Association, sent out a call for sculpture submissions. The submission deadline was Friday, January 17.

Members of the Burlington Historical Commission attended a recent Sculpture Park Subcommittee meeting and informed them a Sculpture Park is not permitted on the Grand View grounds. This is due, they say, to the terms of the land swap agreement the town undertook with The Gutierrez Company in 2014 to obtain the Grand View property.

Selectmen liaison to the subcommittee Nick Priest reported to his board the legal documentation of the 2014 land swap that states the Grand View land is designated for “passive recreation only”. According to Massachusetts law “passive recreation” means no permanent structures can be built on the site. Priest said they’re trying to figure out how this affects their plans.

“The grey area becomes if an art installation requires a base of any kind,” Priest stated. “Does it count as a permanent structure?” 

Priest also noted a complication with the New England Sculpture Association due to the location issue. The call for submissions included the Grand View site and there may now be an issue with where sculptures will be placed. 

Sculpture Park Subcommittee chair John Sachs went before the Recreation Commission to get a feel for possibly proposing Simonds Park as a location. Specifically the area along Route 3A, between the sidewalk retaining wall and the tree line where there is a small, unused area. Sachs spoke on how he likes the site for its visibility.

“It’s very visible to traffic,” he said. “When 10,000 cars a day drive through town the sculptures would have high visibility.”

Burlington Parks and Recreation Director Brendan Egan cited safety issues with drawing families and kids to view the sculptures so close to Cambridge Street. Matters of parking at Simonds Park were also mentioned. 

To help the project proceed, Egan suggested considering locations like the lawn of the library, the area in front of the human services building and the wedge of land along Olympia Way in front of the fire station.

Currently the plan calls for a June 2020 Sculpture Park unveiling ceremony. The next steps for locating the Sculpture Park are to be determined.


 

 
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