- Associated Press - Wednesday, February 3, 2016

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - The Iowa City Council hasn’t reached a consensus over a proposal to contribute up to $50,000 for an art installment in the downtown area.

The Iowa City Press-Citizen (https://icp-c.com/1QdkzA2 ) reports that the council voted 3-3 on Tuesday after a lengthy public hearing on the measure, which would’ve ordered City Manager Tom Markus to make the donation to the Iowa City Downtown District.

District leaders say the funds would’ve allowed the district to hire a fundraising consultant to cover the cost of the $500,000 art installment, “The Lens.”

District leaders and business owners have praised the project designed by British artist Cecil Balmond since it was unveiled in October.

But the piece has also garnered strong criticism from community members who have called the design a “giant egg slicer,” ”huge magnifying glass” and a “spare tire.”

Residents who spoke out against the piece at the hearing said that if there was widespread support for the piece, a public contribution for funding shouldn’t be necessary.

“The folks that want this to happen can form themselves into a group and see if there is widespread community support,” said Charlie Eastham, a member of the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission. “We don’t need to pay for professional fundraising for this, we need community fundraising for this piece because of its location and place.”

Assistant City Manager Geoff Fruin told the council that the contribution was intended to help engage the community at large in the fundraising process.

“I don’t expect that they’re going to enthusiastically kick off a fundraising campaign without the support of the City Council,” he said.

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

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