Like It or Not: Public Art

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Opinion piece by William Perry

We are fortunate in the City of Atlanta to have many areas where public art is proudly displayed. The question I’m asking today is: How much we as taxpayers should pay for it?

For the record, I love public art—even if I don’t know what it is—and I'm all for some public funding.

But sometimes I wonder whether we’re striking the right balance when so many other important needs are going unmet.

Take, for example, the Peachtree Street bridge projects.

Like it or not, you've likely seen the big letters spelling out "PEACHTREE" on the two bridges where the interstates pass under Peachtree Street.

An artist's rendering of what the North Bridge will look like is truly amazing! 22 painted arches reaching heights of 30 feet and spanning 240 feet across the bridge will no doubt dazzle travelers as they drive up and down 85.

The total project cost for both bridges is $6 million.

Funding comes from public sources like the Georgia DOT, and private sources like the Woodruff Foundation. But I wonder, are we just putting lipstick on the proverbial pig?

Don’t get me wrong: I'm not saying Atlanta is a pig. I am saying there are a lot of clean up and street maintenance projects that should be a higher priority.

Just look at this mess right under the bridge. And potholes continue to be a nightmare. You can drive down just about any street near either bridge and if you aren't careful, you may need a trip to a tire shop, mechanic... or a dentist!

Former Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin created the "Pothole Posse" to quickly fill and address these nuisances, but it’s a job that never ends.

To be fair, some of that $6 million is coming from private sources. But all of it is being spent on public projects.

I'm not complaining, I just want to know what you think. If you held the purse strings, would you spend the full $6 million on art? Or would you spread it around and clean up the highway and fix more potholes?

DISCLAIMER: This segment represents the views of the commentator and not necessarily those of FOX 5 Atlanta.