|Reece Barrick and the staff at the CEU Prehistoric Museum are experimenting with covering casts of fossils with the material used to line truck beds. Their hope is that the covering will withstand weathering and allow them to use the method to advertise for the museum by placing full-scale models near U.S. Highway 6.|
The project to install banners as well as dinosaur related art and exhibits in different parts of the community to enhance Price city's image and draw in tourism from U.S. Highway 6 is still on track.
"We've done some research so we can get this going and we have been able to work with the Utah Department of Transportation on where we can and can't put banners and art on the right of ways," said Reece Barrick, College of Eastern Utah Prehistoric Museum director. "We have a map with dots that shows the poles along the roads we can use and all of our banner sites are mapped out."
Last year, project proponents and the Small Business Alliance group came up with concepts for making the museum local attractions more visible to people traveling through the area. The involved parties worked with an image firm that designed banners for buildings, overpasses and poles along with art concepts tying into the prehistoric past of the area. However, the groups had to search for grants and private funding to proceed with the project.
At the Carbon County Commission meeting on March 16, initial funding for materials was granted through the restaurant tax advisory board to the tune of $37,820.60. Last year, the commission approved $8,000 for graphic design work on the project. However, Commissioner Mike Milovich raised questions last week before the county voted to fund the banners.
"I think we need to put a caveat into this funding that, before any money is given to Price city, they must have a complete plan in place on how this will all tie in with the other parts of it and show what they will be putting near freeway exits to pull people in," stated Milovich. "There will certainly be more of this than just these banners. Who is going to pay the cost of the other parts of it?"
A letter to the commission from restaurant tax advisory board member Neil Breinholt suggested that the county may want to consider additional funding as needed for other locations where UDOT denotes banners would be appropriate.
The commission approved the requested money with Milovich's caveat.
Barrick said a plan is in place and will be presented to the county within a week.
"We put a call out to local artists for proposals on the rest of what we want to do and we presently have five proposals in," indicated Barrick. "We will have to pick what we want to do. If we did it all we would need approximately $940,000 to complete it, but it needs to be sorted out."
The entire project includes not only the banners that the commission approved money for but also billboards and/or message boards in strategic spots around the county, art and maybe most intriguing of all life size casts of some of the dinosaurs and other animals that museum personnel and others have extracted from quarries in the area.
"It's interesting that according to UDOT regulations we can't put up signs but we can erect dinosaurs," stated Barrick while explaining how the castings would work. "We have a couple of examples of the Huntington Mammoth and one of those could go by an exit to draw people in. We have also thought about putting a casting of the largest dinosaur we have found at the west Price exit with it's head pointing toward town as a directional device."
But the cost of those skeletal castings is very expensive. Barrick says that the mammoth would be over $50,000 and that the large dinosaurs costs could reach $200,000. Another problem also relates to protecting the displays from the ravages of time. Barrick showed a vertebrate from an animal that had been covered with the same material that is used to line pickup beds.
"Dave O'Brien came up with the idea that we could cover the castings and bones with this stuff," he said as he twirled on the table at an economic development meeting Thursday in the Price City Hall. "We coated this and have frozen it to see if the bone would be affected. We are also doing various kinds of other tests on it. The next one is to bake it in an oven to see if it holds together."
The last piece of the puzzle that the proponents are assembling is life size or near life size prehistoric art around town. A good example of what could come is the Kokapelli statue that was erected at the intersection of Main Street and 100 West last fall. Initial plans call for dinosaurs and other statues and castings appearing along Main Street on the sidewalks as well as on 100 North near the Museum.
But while the cost of securing and installing these kinds of items is expensive, the potential costs concerning the maintenance of them once they are installed could be high also. Obviously the figures, no matter how well protected, will still be exposed to the elements and inevitably also be prone to be involved in accidents from time to time since they are located on or near busy streets.
"That's the reason for starting an art foundation to take care of the public art in the community," said CEU President Ryan Thomas. "An art foundation for this purpose would be a small part of an overall community foundation that could function for many kinds of community projects."
Thomas, who has a background as a tax attorney, said that such foundations are defined geographically and that presently there are only two in Utah.
"This could be a nice community vehicle to get a lot of things done," he said. "There are some clearly designed tax advantages to setting this up too."
The foundation has been on the minds of Price City fathers for some time, due to the fact that the amount of public art in the city increases yearly. Already the town has the doughboy statue in the Peace Garden, the miner in West Park and now Kokopelli. Repairs are often needed, as was proved last fall when vandals damaged the doughboy statue and it had to be removed to be repaired.
Barrick said the big picture is moving forward on the banner/art projects and that the proponents are looking for grants and some private funding to support the idea.
Once the plan is presented to the county, funding should be released and residents will begin to see some of the results of the expenditure of that money within the next few months.