We’re passing along this fantastic letter to your elected leaders from former SHJH director and now board member Armond Acri. It’s concerning the proposed North Cache Wildlife Viewing Platform, which was up for final approval on December 19 and, in fact, did pass on a 4-1 vote with councilman Jim Stanford opposed.
The artwork has rankled some on a number of fronts from “wrong concept” to “wrong place.” Given that the exhibit would be incorporated within the Murie Family Park, we were very interested in hearing what the surviving members of the Murie family think about it. And they don’t like it.
We refer to our favorite response here from Jan O. Murie:
“Only recently did I learn of the proposal to build a boardwalk in the park on North Cache and saw the artist’s rendition of the project. Although I am ordinarily sympathetic to public art projects, this one is an unnecessary intrusion in a park that serves as an oasis in the hurly-burly of downtown Jackson. The views from this park are already attractive and provide a suitably low key approach for people to view the wildlife occupying the adjacent marshland. The presence ofthe raised boardwalk does not enhance the aesthetic nature of the park.
My objection to the project as currently outlined is based primarily on two issues. Most important is the potentially adverse effect the raised structure and increased visitation could have on the animals in the marsh particularly nesting birds. That issue requires a detailed evaluation before any such project is approved.
Secondarily, since the park was named for the Murie family, it seems entirely inappropriate to build any sort of elaborate structures within it that clashes so harshly with their minimalist approach to interacting with nature. My cousin Donald has expressed this point well in his letter to you, so I won’t belabor it here as I think it well reflects the views of our extended family.
I urge you to not approve this project as currently outlined. If some improvements to the park are deemed necessary, please make them less intrusive and more in keeping with the values of those for whom the park was named.”
Here is Armond’s letter:
Mayor Flitner and member of Town Council,
I will be unable to attend your meeting on Monday to comment on the proposed Wildlife Platform because I will be in transit to visit family for Christmas. As you begin your meeting I should be crossing the border from Wyoming into Nebraska, but I will be thinking about this project and what is best for our community.
I hope you will honor the request by the Murie family to take more time to evaluate this project. There are many unanswered questions about the impact on wildlife. The size of the project does not seem appropriate for the location.
My biggest concern however is that there is a good possibility that this project will be torn down in 2-3 years to accommodate a new visitor center. That is not a responsible use of tax dollars. I would ask that you delay this project until it is clear that it is not necessary to tear down or relocate this project. Pushing forward a project of this size and then tearing it down in 2 or 3 years will undermine confidence in the ability of the Town Council to manage our tax money. It might also result in a major backlash against public art.
Let’s take our time and make a good decision wildlife and our citizens can live with. Please do not waste our tax dollars. Thank you and best wishes for a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Armond Acri Jackson, WY