The Connection Runners + running man

Christo's "Over the River" Moves Forward

A few years ago I wrote about an art exhibit proposed by Christo, an artist who wraps large things in fabric. I had completely forgotten that I wrote about that until I heard a story on the local radio station that the project was moving forward now that Fremont County had approved the plan.

In the previous post, I urged people to make their voices heard about this project. Whether you approve or not isn't my concern. But it is important to have a voice. In a schizophrenic era that is marred by a never-ending GOP primary (where we all know that MR will be the eventual nominee) and by a seemingly increased democratic deficit foisted upon us by corporate personhood, being able to speak out about something you agree or disagree with is a luxury that shouldn't be passed. Unfortunately, the time to have your voice heard is nearly over.

The Christo project is probably going to go forward. The project is an art installation above the Arkansas River, in our beloved Colorado. In the first two weeks of August, 2015, Christo (I'm sure Christo will not actually be doing the work) will drape nearly 6 miles of fabric, in 8 sections, over 42 miles of the Arkansas. The project still needs permission from Chaffee County, Colorado DOT, and the State Patrol, but if they are all approved the installations will commence in 2013. As this article points out:

The 2.5-year construction phase is similar to a mining operation. There will be massive amounts of drilling equipment and cranes, 9,000 holes drilled into the canyon," she said. "It's so mind-boggling to think the agencies responsible for protecting wildlife and the good of the public have approved this project.That quote comes from the leader of the group that opposes this project, Rags Over the River. She has a point - this is going to be very destructive. Those who think this project ought to go forward claim that it will have a lasting economic benefit to the area. I don't know if that is going to happen. How many more people are going to come visit the Arkansas River valley because of this installation? Hard to say, but I hope, for the sake of the project and the environmental despoliation, that it is far more successful than the most optimistic person can imagine.

Another article points to the reasons that Freemont County approved the project.

At the beginning of the exhibition phase, the Over the River team will be required to make a payment of $40,000 to offset the impacts to county roads due to increased traffic. Christo's team also will be required to pay for the cost of additional traffic control signs.
Reimbursement of county employees, including the sheriff's office, will be required for time spent analyzing the permit and event management plan. The first payment of $7,500 will reimburse the county for staff time spent during the BLM permitting process then an additional $15,000 deposit will be used to reimburse staff for time spent reviewing the permit and helping with the event management plan.
In short, the Fremont County board approved the installation because Christo is throwing lots of money at them. So there will be an economic gain to the surrounding area. No one should be surprised that this is one of the reasons that the project is going forward: although businesses seem to be finally turning around, most state and local governments are broke. I wonder how deep in the hole Freemont County is - $40,000?

The last thing I want to point out is the value brought to this discussion by the local journalistic coverage. If you get the opportunity, read through your local paper. They usually have differing perspectives that you might not get otherwise. Certainly, the two papers I've quoted here take different stances (stances that I've bastardized for my own purposes). But these stance would have been glossed over in a national paper as "the controversial Christo Over the River..." with controversial as the operative extent they are willing to dig into the issue. And even though local papers can have op-eds or articles that can be completely infuriating, they are also a resource that shouldn't be overlooked.

And that's my voice for the day.

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Christo's "Over the River" Moves Forward + running man