City spends $380,000 on WestWorld sculpture

Arizona Republic, Scottsdale Republic

April 16, 2014, page 4, by Beth Duckett


Scottsdale will use hotel guest-tax savings to fast-track completion of a $380,000 sculpture at WestWorld, an expenditure that comes as the overall cost of an improvement project at the venue may exceed the original estimate.


The stainless-steel horse sculpture, proposed by Scottsdale artist Jeff Zischke, is part of a $51.3 million expansion and related improvements at the Tony Nelssen Equestrian Center at WestWorld.


That cost is now about $9 million beyond what the city originally budgeted. Because of the escalating project costs, the city opted to use hotel-tax funds – reserved for tourism-related projects – to get the artwork installed.


[Report on discussions of the project by various Council members and staff]


Former Scottsdale City Treasurer David Smith, who retired last year, argued against the use of bed-tax savings to pay for public art.


The Tony Nelssen Equestiran Center “is the most overspent, overrun, miscalculated project that probably any council in the history of Scottsdale has ever dealt with,” Smith told council members on April 8.


Smith, who has announced his candidacy for City Council, said the project “started out at forty-some million dollars; went up by 10 percent when we realized we needed a second floor on the North Hall; went up by another 10 percent when we realized we needed to pave so people could park.”


The city’s tourism dollars from the bed tax “are not intended to fund public art,” he added.


“This is a dangerous precedent,” Smith said.


[Continued report on discussions of the project by various Council members and staff]