An illuminated artistic structure will soon be visible at the front of the new Signal Hill police station by visitors and passersby.
Landscape artist Jon Cicchetti presented a newly revised conceptual design for the public art piece planned for the entrance of the police station on Walnut Avenue during the City Council meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 3 meeting.
The original concept for the art piece envisioned by a former police chief was to include a bronze statue of a police officer holding a child’s hand. That idea will still be incorporated but as a silhouette in a glass-block wall instead of a statue. Deputy City Manager Charlie Honeycutt said city staff decided to go with something more “unique and creative.”
At its Aug. 20 meeting, the Council awarded Cicchetti a $73,500 contract to design, fabricate and install the public art piece. The project is being paid for by the Police Station and Emergency Operations Center Project budget.
During that meeting earlier this year, Cicchetti presented the Council with his first conceptual design after gathering input from police staff and drawing inspiration from the station’s new landscape. His design combines a plant formation to represent the police department’s “renewal” with a glass-block wall that would incorporate images, such as a a badge and old jail-cell keys, to reflect the police department’s history.
The plant-like structure would include metal leaves, which would resemble the blue-flame aloe plant and sprouting metal poles made out of jail-cell bars repurposed from the old police station, to look like the crown of a palm tree, a major landscape feature of Hilltop Park and the new police station.
“It’s sort of a wake-up call to how fragile life is,” he said. “You don’t know what’s going to happen, but then we’re surrounded by these other positive forms and imagery, and that’s what we want to emphasize. We want to emphasize coming together and the unity and all the work that Signal Hill PD has done for the community.”
At the base would be a black granite ring that Chicchetti said could include the police department’s mission statement.
The Council, however, still felt there needed to be more input from the community on the design and requested a presentation be made to the Signal Hill Parks and Recreation Commission. In late October, a subcommittee, consisting of Councilmember Tina Hansen, Parks and Recreation Commission Chair Louise Cunningham and Planning Commission Chair Rose Richard, met with Cicchetti and Honeycutt to further work on the design.
After the meetings, Cicchetti revised his conceptual design to make the glass-block wall larger than previously proposed and more of a prominent feature. The wall would also incorporate the original idea of a police officer holding a child’s hand but as a silhouette instead of a statue.
Mayor Michael Noll said the new design is a “great improvement” from the original concept, and Councilmember Larry Forester said the art piece might take away the “intimidating aspect” of the police station.
Honeycutt said the silhouette will be a powerful image to showcase that the police department is “caring and helpful.” Hansen said the piece should also depict that children can trust the police as well. “I think that’s important to show that it’s a two-way street,” she said.
The City is looking into giving elementary- and middle-school students in Signal Hill an opportunity to compete for a chance to be a model for the art-piece sillouette by answering a question in an essay, Honeycutt said.
He also said that adjusting the design to include a larger glass-block wall would make the art piece more visible from a distance.
“The orientation needed to be turned so it will be more visible from the street,” Honeycutt said. “Passersby can walk by and actually see the image of the silhouette versus just people coming to the police department.”
Cicchetti said the art piece will be fitted with lighting for the artwork to be seen at night and more clearly during the daytime.
“It’s going to really jump out at night, and we’ll have a little shading in there so that during the day it will still have that effect,” he said.
Cicchetti was selected for the project since he has worked on various other art pieces in the city, including at Raymond Arbor Park, Honeycutt said. “He’s been very successful here and very creative, and we thought he was really the best person to do this for us.”
Vice Mayor Edward Wilson, who was absent when Cicchetti was awarded the contract, questioned why other artists weren’t consulted.
“This probably is the best person for the job,” he said. “It’s just, personally, I think it’s always a good idea when we have projects of this nature, specifically because of how long-term they’re going to be, which is forever, that we get as much particpation as possible.”
Hansen agreed with Wilson that there should have been more of an effort to bring in other ideas, adding that if any new public art pieces are considered, such as for the proposed new library, there should be more of a collaboration with citizens.
“This came to us done, and I have a problem with that,” she said. “That’s why I asked to take a step back and have other individuals look at it and make comments. In the future, I would like to go back to that when we have other art pieces.”
Other Council highlights:
‘Pay first, litigate later’ The Council unanimously approved the second reading and adoption of an ordinance amendment that mandates that anyone challenging the city regarding taxes, fees, fines and other charges must make such payments before taking legal action. The change to city code imposes a “pay first, litigate later” requirement for all such legal challenges. City Attorney David Aleshire stipulated that the second reading of the amendment includes adding that claims of up to $5,000 may be settled without Council approval.
Affordable-housing project The Council unanimously approved the second reading of a city ordinance amendment that changes zoning for a .2-acre parcel at 2170 Gundry Ave. from “light industrial” to Area 6 of the “SP-7 Special Purpose Housing Specific Plan.” The amendment revises the development standards by increasing the density for a proposed affordable-housing project from 60 to 72 units. The site is to be combined with the adjacent parcel at 1500 E. Hill St., however a developer has yet to bid on the project.
IT support contract A five-year contract for BreaIT Solutions to provide Information Technology (IT) services to the City was approved unanimously by the Council. BreaIT Solutions was one of three contractors, including Knight Communications and Total Network Solutions, to submit proposals. The City’s previous IT contractor declined to submit a bid, according to a city staff report. The minimum yearly services cost is estimated to be $87,360 for 832 hours, which is a projected annual savings of $53,582 compared to last fiscal year, according to staff.
The next Signal Hill Council meeting is scheduled for Dec. 17 at 7pm at the Council Chamber.