The January 26 Willits Town Council meeting was held virtually due to Covid concerns and was well attended by local art lovers.
Council unanimously passed a resolution authorizing the installation of a pinwheel sculpture in the east side of the park off Highway 20. The sculpture will be constructed by artist Cjay Roughgarden and donated by Jane Camp. City Manager Brian Bender estimated the installation would cost the city about $3,000.
Bender said council received a request last May to install the sculpture and an ad hoc advisory committee was formed to refine the proposal. The park’s location off Highway 20 was chosen for its high visibility, especially for tourists traveling to the Mendocino Coast.
City staff will assist with the installation of the sculpture. Bender estimated that two to three days of labor time would be required, which is included in the estimated cost. He said of the project, “It’s good for the community, for the nominal cost we can do it.”
During the public comment period, Eric Ward pointed out that the art in the Highway 20 park could also be an economic benefit to the city, as visitors could be drawn to Willits to view the art and finish by spending money in town. He said: “I think it’s a very good idea. Public art, I think, is a huge benefit to the city itself, not just something to look at, but the fact that it entices people to spend money in the city.
There has been support for the project, apart from the potential economic benefits. Judy Fisch, board member and secretary of the Willits Center for the Arts, said the donated sculpture was worth $10,000. She said, “The idea of the city supporting art in our community is a wonderful idea.”
Vice Mayor Greta Kanne said, “There is a generous donation on the table from a longtime member of the community. We all agree that public art is in the best interest of our community… let’s get this off the ground so we can show the community that we really support the arts.
Throughout the sculpture proposal process, Council, City staff and City Attorney Jim Lance identified the need for a standardized policy for public art in the Town of Willits. The council plans to put a policy in place alongside the sculpture project. The public arts policy will state the city’s goals, what the policies are, how the city considers a work of art and selects an artist, and an application process for the artist.
Mayor Saprina Rodriguez read a proclamation from Willits City Council recognizing Edith Recagno Keenan Ceccarelli as a “114-year-old.” She said, “We would like to officially recognize that you have had the privilege of celebrating the most birthdays in Mendocino County.”
Board member Madge Strong said of Ceccarelli, “He’s an incredible, incredible person who has graced our city all this time.” Ceccarelli’s second cousin by marriage, Evelyn Persico, agreed on his behalf.
Members of the community are encouraged to decorate their cars and participate in a birthday car celebration for Ceccarelli on February 5. The parade route will begin on Haehl Creek Drive. Proceed to the Haehl Creek Drive and Grove Street stop sign. At the second stop sign at the intersection of Haehl Creek Drive and Grove Street, turn left onto Grove Street to pass Ceccarelli’s home at the Holy Spirit Residential Care Home, located at 414 Grove St. The parade will take place between 1:30 p.m. and 2 p.m.
Mayor Rodriguez also read a proclamation acknowledging Black History Month 2022, which will take place in February with the theme “Black Health and Wellness” set by the Association for the Study of Life and the history of African Americans.