- Associated Press - Thursday, March 3, 2016

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - A $2.2 million proposed renovation of Iowa City’s pedestrian mall was halted after the City Council voted against a plan to use public funds to support a 30-foot sculpture in the downtown area.

Assistant City Manager Geoff Fruin told the Iowa City Press-Citizen (http://icp-c.com/1TSAj1L ) that the improvements for the north end of the pedestrian mall will not move forward as planned. The proposed renovation was set to begin next year and included the installation of “The Lens” sculpture as the centerpiece of the Black Hawk Mini Park.

“Exactly where it goes from here as a larger project, I don’t know,” Fruin said. “That’s going to take some time to figure out, but it’s safe to say, at least in my view, that the project that includes ‘The Lens’ as the centerpiece is dead.”

On Tuesday, the City Council declined to give $50,000 to the Iowa City Downtown District to hire a professional fundraising firm, which would’ve helped raise donations for the $500,000 sculpture.

The council as divided on an initial vote to provide funding for the project, but the Mayor Jim Throgmorton and council member Kingsley Botchway changed their votes, causing the measure to fail with a 5-2 vote. About 17 residents who spoke during the public hearing Tuesday also were divided fairly evenly on the issue.

Now that “The Lens” component of the pedestrian mall project has been removed, the city will need to redesign the renovation plans at some point in the future, according to Fruin.

“I think at this point, we’re just going to press pause, take a little bit of time and perhaps with next budget session in the fall and winter, we’ll revisit it,” he said.

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Information from: Iowa City Press-Citizen, http://www.press-citizen.com/

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