The Hamburg Village Board on Monday approved a contract of up to $130,000 for modern artworks slated for two of the village's new roundabouts, despite the protests of some villagers and Mayor Thomas Moses.
The board voted, 4-1, with Moses dissenting, to contract with Larry Griffis Jr. for sculptures titled "Sail Form" and "Flame Blossom." Moses also dissented on the vote to issue bonds to pay for the sculptures.
The art will stand in the center of roundabouts at Main and Center streets and Buffalo Street and Legion Drive. The village's sculpture committee is sponsoring a contest to choose sculptures for roundabouts at Main and Buffalo streets and Pine and Buffalo streets. The committee plans to raise the up to $100,000 in prize money through donations.
Moses, joined by at least four villagers voicing their concerns, believes the wisest economic choice is refraining from spending $130,000 of village money on sculptures -- at least for now.
"I just don't feel at this point we have the money to do it," Moses said. "I have to represent the village taxpayers as a whole through this whole process, and I just don't feel that we're ready for something like that."
Trustee Michael Cerrone, one of the art project's strongest proponents, acknowledged the village's money problems, stating village expenses have increased in the past decade by more than twice the amount of village revenues.
"Our village government is not sustainable in its present form," he said. "Why spend the money on art? Two words: economic development."
Cerrone cited three studies, including one mentioned in a July 7 Buffalo News editorial, that indicated economic returns exceed investments in the arts.
"I don't want our community to fall behind," he said, "but without the right investment in our village, we will fall behind."
In other business, the board authorized the $20,786 purchase of a 2007 police vehicle and the acquisition of a 1976 Ford fire rescue vehicle.
Moses also apologized for confusion in last week's water main changeover. As a result of the mixup, Coyote Cafe and a neighboring hairstylist were without water for 3.5 hours, Village Administrator Robert Pauley said. The lack of water caused problems in rinsing one woman's hair color treatment, he said, turning her hair purple.
"When they needed to wash it out, they didn't have water," he said. "It got overcolored. It's a new trend, though, I understand."