What’s going atop the roundabout?

By Ned Seaton

Q: I am wondering as I go to and from work through the roundabout at Fourth & Bluemont, what monument might eventually sit atop the limestone base in its center. Any insight?

A: Not really.

As some of you might remember, Manhattan city commissioners killed a plan last year for a “wayfinder” sculpture in the new roundabout. That artwork, which included a sort of obelisk with female figures pointing in different directions, was proposed by the local Bowman architect firm and the Kent Bloomer art studio from Connecticut. Bloomer’s outfit did

some of the work at the entry to the renovated Hale Library at K-State.

The cost of the proposed “wayfinder” sculpture is what appeared to kill the deal when commissioners shelved it in March, 2010. That price tag was estimated at $105,000; the whole round-about project was just north of $1 million.

Since then, well…

“It just kind of sits out there now,” said assistant city manager Jason Hilgers. “Nothing’s been proposed.”

Part of the reason, of course, is that the city government hasn’t exactly been in a spending mood for things generally perceived as frills. (I’m not judging whether public art is, in fact, a frill, but it would be safe to say that it’s perceived as such.)

If private money could be raised to pay for something, the other question would be what should be put there. One suggestion informally floated, Hilgers confirmed, was a statue of Isaac Goodnow. He was one of the founders of Manhattan, and of K-State. He has been called “the father of public education in Kansas.” But that idea never — or at least hasn’t yet — achieved liftoff.

So, for the moment, it’s just a roundabout. If you have an idea and you want to raise a hundred thou, charge right ahead.

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