Biloxi Mayor's Plan for Highway 90 "Sculpture Garden" of Carved Oak Stumps May Hit City Council Roadblock
by Keith Burton GCN 1/6/07
A plan by Biloxi Mayor A.J. Holloway to have a chainsaw-wielding sculptor carve the remains of Katrina-killed oak trees into art may not pass the Biloxi City Council.
The mayor announced his plan unexpectedly this past Friday to emulate Gulfport and commission the art from award-winning “chainsaw artist” Dayton Scoggins of Sandersville, Miss. to sculpt a variety of marine-related objects. Two weeks ago, Scoggins completed a carving on an oak stump on U.S. 90 in West Gulfport. (Photo right, tree art in Gulfport.)
The mayor envisions a tree-sculpture garden where a collection of dead oak trees now stands a couple blocks west of the Biloxi Lighthouse, with several other sculptures created in the U.S. 90 median further west toward Rodenberg Avenue.
Biloxi will pay $4,000 for the initial sculpting, while the Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) will fund the preliminary "topping" of the trees.
But several Biloxi City Councilmen contacted Saturday by GCN say they were surprised to learn of the mayor's plan. Councilmen Tom Wall and Mike Fitzpatrick told GCN that they had not been informed by the city administration of the plan prior to learning about it in the news media. Both said they had reviewed the city's announcement on the City's website later.
"It's strange that they put this out before telling this to the council," Wall said.
Fitzpatrick said that he felt that the sculptures would become a distraction hazard along the busy beach highway. The Gulfport sculpture has already slowed some traffic in that area as motorists drive by.
There are also questions over the expenditure of money for art works that will be vulnerable to weathering and vandalism. There has been no public input into the planned sculptures.
Both Wall and Fitzpatrick say they will render any support for the sculptures on what the Mayor explains in a future council meeting. The city says it would remove the sculptures if they become a distraction problem and place them in city parks.
The mayor is likely to explain his plans on the sculptures before the Biloxi City Council at their next meeting on January 16.