Roeland Park Decides Businesses Can Donate Money To The City Instead Of Showing Art | KCUR

Roeland Park Decides Businesses Can Donate Money To The City Instead Of Showing Art

Jan 23, 2019

In a move inspired by the Aldi supermarket chain, Roeland Park will make changes to its public art program.

Aldi has plans to tear down its store at 4801 Roe Boulevard and replace it with a larger, updated store. A One Percent for Art program initiated by the city in 2010 sets aside one percent of all new construction costs for art, and would have required the discount supermarket to incorporate that artwork on site.

Aldi asked to make a donation to the city instead. On Tuesday, the city council agreed, passing a revised ordinance that will allow businesses to opt out and donate funds to the city to determine art placement anywhere in Roeland Park.

"We saw this as a potential coming down the road," Mayor Mike Kelly told KCUR before the vote. "But this is just a nice impetus to evolve our ordinance so it can continue going forward."

According to Aldi, the new store would cost more than $3.6 million, with a total of $36,378 contributed to the city for art. 

At Tuesday's city council meeting, some councilmembers expressed concerns.

"The original idea is to have it placed on the person's property, bringing beauty to the city," said Tom Madigan, who represents Ward 1. "I think the developer needs to tell us why they don't want it on their property."

Madigan wanted to require that developers submit a request to the council if they intended to opt out.

"Otherwise," he said, "we're not going to end up with any art on private property."

Kelly agreed that developers seeking to make a financial contribution would come before the council. 

"It will be at the governing body's discretion whether or not to allow that donation," he said.

Councilmembers Jennifer Hill and Tim Janssen, who both represent Ward 2, anticipated future costs: because the city would own the art, it would need to be maintained.

Language was added so that a portion of the contributed funds would be used for art preservation, and the amended resolution passed by a unanimous vote. 

According to Kelly, who has served as mayor since January 2018, including public art in a project will be the default. But if developers choose to opt out, the city's arts committee and the city council would work collaboratively in the selection process.

"And we welcome the business community's input as to how those funds are spent," he said.

"Roeland Park is a nice little gem that's nestled into the northeast corner of Johnson County," he added. "We might have a smaller square footage average than some other communities, but we choose to invest in these public art pieces so that we can enjoy them together."

Laura Spencer is an arts reporter at KCUR 89.3. You can reach her on Twitter at @lauraspencer.