BB-CRA seeks artist for roundabout sculpture

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A schematic shows the proposed landscaping for the roundabout on the east end of Bridge Street in Bradenton Beach. Islander Courtesy Graphic

Bradenton Beach — The circle may get a cube.

There may be funding for a sculpture — a monument, abstract or real, a leaping dolphin, a lumbering manatee or a school of fish in the roundabout by the Bradenton Beach pier.

But who will conceive and create the artwork?

Bradenton Beach Community Redevelopment Agency members voted 4-0 June 16 to invite local artists to submit their concept for a sculpture in the roundabout at the east end of Bridge Street.

CRA members Jan Vosburgh, Ralph Cole and Marilyn Maro were absent with excuse.

CRA member Jake Spooner, also a city commissioner, suggested hiring a local artist to create a sculpture for the roundabout.

CRA member David Bell then suggested making the sculpture moveable, to be displayed in different places within the district.

Spooner motioned to seek sculpture proposals.

CRA member Ed Chiles seconded the motion.

The discussion on a sculpture followed designer Emily Anne Smith’s presentation of her landscaping proposal for the roundabout, including a barrier of coral rock around the edge of the median and a large spruce or fir tree in the center — seasonally appropriate for Christmas decorations.

Smith’s design showed the tree circled by three rings of plants. An outer ring of 15 coontie shrubs, nine Nora Grant ixoras in the middle ring and four variegated shell ginger plants in the centermost ring.

Smith said the central tree wouldn’t block a driver’s or pedestrian’s view of the Historic Bridge Street Pier, 200 Bridge St. She added that the CRA could plant a shorter spruce or fir if visibility is a concern.

However, Mayor John Chappie, also a CRA member, said he preferred placing palm trees in the roundabout instead of a spruce or fir for visibility and an island aesthetic.

Bradenton Beach resident Susan Billow, during public comment, also said she preferred palm trees for visibility at the roundabout.

Smith said she proposed planting palm trees throughout the district, so spruce or fir would be a “necessary” change of pace. She added that evergreen is easier to maintain than a palm.

The CRA decided to issue a call for artists before proceeding on the landscaping designs.