City Should Reject R.A. Bloch Cancer Survivors Park

RECEIVED Thu., Aug. 20, 2009

Dear Editor,
    Re: “Here We Go Again” [News, Aug. 14]: The city of Austin should reject the R.A. Bloch Cancer Foundation's $1 million "gift" for these reasons:
    1) Austin should not set a precedent by relinquishing control of 1.5 acres of prime public parkland to an independent organization.
    2) The proposed design will cost $1.4 million, leaving $500,000 yet to be raised.
    3) The $100,000 maintenance endowment is inadequate; 1996 estimates placed maintenance at $30,000 a year.
    4) Required texts about "positive attitude" and cancer survivorship are not universally welcomed by those living with metastatic cancer or who have lost loved ones. Such didactic texts suggest you're not trying hard enough if you're not surviving.
    5) Required bronze sculptures conflict with Austin's Town Lake Park Artwork Donation Policy, which prohibits the acceptance of preexisting artworks, unless they show direct relevance to Town Lake Park or Austin. Sculptures already exist in 24 other cities and have no unique relationship to our park or city.
    6) This project is not "really driven locally" as the Chronicle piece states. I am aware of no one in the local arts community who had heard of this effort until the May 28 Austin American-Statesman presented the plaza as a done deal.
    7) Why cancer? What about AIDS, multiple sclerosis, diabetes, drunken driving? Whose disease/issue is more important?
    8) The Bloch Foundation has already invested $23 million building plazas and aims to put 25 more around the country. These valuable resources would be better spent in cancer research or improving diagnostic/treatment access to underserved populations. Though we cannot tell a private organization how to spend its money, we should not subsidize this misguided effort by offering valuable public property.
    As a cancer survivor with a longtime involvement in public arts, I strongly urge the city to say a final no to this project.
Ann S. Graham
People + Art = Building Community
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