- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 2, 2016

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - City Council members have declined to allocate public funds to support a 30-foot sculpture on pedestrian mall in Iowa City.

A majority of the council on Tuesday night voted against a plan to give $50,000 to the Iowa City Downtown District to hire a professional fundraiser for the sculpture, titled “The Lens,” which is expected to cost $500,000. The council was divided the last time it voted on the issue when one of the council members was absent.

“We’re divided, the public is divided, the council is divided,” said Mayor Jim Throgmorton.

In the midst of the council’s discussion of the issue, members of the public who attended the meeting voiced opinions that were both critical and supportive of Throgmorton, because he initially supported the proposal and then changed his mind with the most recent vote, KCRG-TV (http://bit.ly/1WV5OXc ) reported.

“This is a much more inclusive piece than just “the egg slicer” as some people are referring to it,” said project supporter Bill Nusser, owner of Hands Jewelers in downtown Iowa City.

Several council members noted that their support for the project doesn’t mean that they don’t support other issues, such as reducing poverty.

“I’ve talked to so many people that think this is a gem,” said council member Terry Dickens.

Other council members said they support public art, but they don’t particularly care for “The Lens.”

“This isn’t supported by the community,” said council member John Thomas “I think we know what general agreement is.”

The Iowa City Downtown District may try to raise funds for the project without the city’s help, according to the group’s director, Nancy Bird.

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Information from: KCRG-TV, http://www.kcrg.com

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