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Napa may pursue new public art at city parks, First Street roundabout

Napa may pursue new public art at city parks, First Street roundabout

utility box art Napa

Downtown Napa property owners are paying to cover 13 utility boxes this spring with art by local artists. This utility box is on First Street, west of Randolph Street. 

With Napa’s long-planned overhaul of a downtown square on hold, the city may turn its attention to placing artworks in various parks, a parking garage, and a newly rebuilt gateway to the city center.

Napa’s Public Art Steering Committee on Tuesday endorsed adding a quartet of public art projects totaling more than $800,000 to the city’s next yearly budget, which will take effect July 1. The package includes an installation at First Street and California Boulevard in the triple-roundabout entryway into downtown, another work at the Second Street garage, and a new Art in Parks program that would add outdoor art pieces to some of the city’s 50-plus recreational spaces.

A fourth project would place an outdoor art piece along a currently missing link of the Napa Valley Vine Trail, which remains unbuilt along Soscol Avenue from Vallejo Street south to Napa’s Riverfront.

The committee’s choice of projects, which requires City Council approval, would spread Napa’s stock of publicly viewable artworks to other neighborhoods beyond the downtown core that has been the focus of exhibitions like the Art Walk outdoor gallery.

A roundabout artwork at First and California is expected to be the most costly of the four projects at $350,000, according to Katrina Gregory, recreation manager for the city Parks and Recreation department. About $230,000 would be required for art at the Second Street parking structure, $150,000 for installations at a yet-unknown number of city parks, and $75,000 along the future Vine Trail link, where bicycles currently use a lane on the Soscol Avenue shoulder.

Two other projects may be up for consideration in the following year’s city budget for 2022-23, Gregory told the committee — a $50,000 piece for a planned foot-and-bicycle pathway underneath Highway 29 west of the D Street Alley, and a $25,000 pavement artwork at the downtown intersection of Main and Second streets near Veterans Memorial Park.

If approved for the city budget, all of the projects would be covered by Napa’s public art fund, which is replenished by an ordinance requiring large-scale commercial construction to provide an amount equal to 1% of the total construction cost, or else provide an artwork viewable by the public of equal value.

The move toward distributing future artworks in various neighborhoods comes nearly a year after Napa suspended a long-planned overhaul of Dwight Murray Plaza, which opened on downtown First Street in 1974 but has increasingly languished with the creation of newer recreation spaces like Veterans Park and the Oxbow Commons. Pausing the renovation for a savings of about $1.6 million was one of the first cost-cutting steps taken by the city early in the COVID-19 pandemic that slashed tourism revenue from hotels and restaurants.

At the heart of the plaza’s planned renewal was the art installation Veil of Water, which was to be composed of hundreds of metal tiles suspended from poles set into the square to create wave-like effects when stirred by the wind. Napa officials originally estimated the cost at $350,000, but later raised the figure by $200,000 after discovering the need for extra structural support.


Mayor Scott Sedgley at Rep. Mike Thompson's press conference highlighting latest COVID relief bill, March 25, 2021


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Public Safety Reporter

Howard Yune covers public safety for the Napa Valley Register. He has been a reporter and photographer for the Register since 2011, and previously wrote for the Marysville Appeal-Democrat, Anaheim Bulletin and Coos Bay (Oregon) World.

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