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Letter: City of Napa addresses community response to roundabout art

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First and foremost, the city of Napa is listening and our community’s input is valued. We would like to provide additional information about the Roundabout Public Art project as described in the Napa Register article published on June 14, 2022, and take the opportunity to address concerns noted in subsequent letters to the editor on this topic.

Here is what the city of Napa has heard:

I am concerned that this money should be used for something else within our community and not for public art.

This project is not using city tax dollars or from the city’s general fund. The funds budgeted for this project will utilize the Public Art Fund, which was created in conjunction with the city’s Public Art Ordinance that requires commercial developers to dedicate 1% of the project construction costs to public art on their site or to pay the 1% into the Public Art Fund. This fund can only be used to support permanent public art on city property and cannot be used for other projects in the city, such as sidewalk repairs, street resurfacing, or homelessness services. The funds also cannot be granted or gifted to other community agencies.

I am concerned that the artwork will be a public safety issue and too distracting to vehicles using the roundabouts.

While some motorists are still getting accustomed to navigating the roundabouts, they have been statistically proven to improve safety for drivers. In fact, roundabouts reduced injury crashes by 75% at intersections where stop signs or signals were previously used for traffic control and provided a 90% reduction in fatality collisions.

Thousands of communities throughout the country and the world have added public art either inside or near roundabouts and there have been no findings linking additional accidents to these public art installations. Roundabout designers encourage the use of public art and believe it helps with the aesthetics of the site but also supports overall traffic calming.

The location of the public art sculpture at the 1st and California roundabout was evaluated and designed with the construction of the project and will not be in the center of the roundabout but rather, located in the southeast corner. It will be adequately set back from the roadway and sidewalk to ensure suitable sight lines for vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians. The intent of the public art is not to add a distraction but to enhance the community’s aesthetic and character and support traffic calming measures for the overall site. Similar to other public art pieces around Napa, or when visiting downtown San Francisco or another community, public art becomes part of the landscape and the character of a community.

Over time, the goal is that the public art is appreciated, used as a landmark, becomes a topic of discussion among friends, or provides further insights about our community. As visits through the roundabout increase, the public art sculpture will become less visible as something new and will become something known and a part of the built environment.

Where can I find the community survey on the three finalists?

The city of Napa wants to ensure that everyone can access the survey easily to provide comments by 5 p.m. on June 24. Please visit cityofnapa.org/RoundaboutPublicArt to learn more about the project and take the survey.

Katrina Gregory, Recreation & Public Art Manager

City of Napa Parks & Recreation

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