See the Light on Bridge Idea

Greenfield Recorder - Editorial

The Issue. The idea of putting up neon tubes as a 'temporary art installation" on the Bridge of Flowers.

Our opinion: We don't think there's anything to fear with the proposal. And that those opposed to the idea should reconsider.

We can't help it, we like the idea of rimming the Bridge of Flowers in Shelburne Falls with neon.

Colrain neon artist Pacifico "Tony" Palumbo wants to put up the neon tubes as a "temporary art installation" and leave it up for 13 months.

He's a persuasive guy, and he's managed to garner support from the Shelburne Falls Woman's Club's Bridge of Flowers Committee, the Art Bank, the Franklin County Chamber of Commerce, the Shelburne Falls Area . Business Association and even officials from that converted textile mill over in North Adams known as MASS MoCA.

Of course, the last testimonial had to have been fairly easy, considering that MASS MoCA considers growing large trees upside down to be a work of art, and that it sometimes measures its exhibits in fractions of a mile rather than feet or inches.

Nonetheless, the list of supporters is impressive.

However, two important groups are missing from the list.

In April, the voters of the Shelburne Falls Fire/Water District will vote on the plan. That's because the two current water/fire commissioners both voted against it.

"I guess our biggest fear is the precedent we would be setting if we allowed Tony to put his lights up - which I personally think, and so does Frank, would be beautiful - but if you let one person do something you have to let everyone and that could be a little scary," said Commissioner Alice Connelley. Frank Field also voted against the idea. There is normally a third member of the commission, but there's a vacancy at present.

We don't think the commission has to fear setting a precedent. First of all, it1s doubtful that there will be an epidemic of people petitioning to adorn the old trolley bridge/garden with odd bits of artwork, and if there is, they have every right to examine each proposal on its own merits.

Palumbo is a local guy with a great reputation, and his idea seems tasteful and attractive. its cost is estimated at $70,000, all of which would come from arts grants and private donations.

The other group that has taken a position against the project is the Bridge of Flowers Preservation Inc., the non-profit, independent corporation that was formed in 1983 to raise money for a major structural restoration of the span. That group is still in charge of major maintenance projects, such as painting or applying a protective coating to the bridge when needed.

President Trudy Finck said she voted against it because she "couldn't figure out putting it there." "It seemed to me it might take away from the bridge instead of add to it," said Finck. "It was just the idea of putting something else on the bridge besides flowers."

Perhaps if Finck studies the computer-generated rendering of the proposed lighting she will be able to imagine its final appearance.

As Palumbo says, "I'm interested in this bridge because of its unique design with particular emphasis on its Romanesque arches, which lends itself so well to the effect I know it will achieve. What happens is you get a reflection in the water and a purple aura all around, and you don't know where it comes from; it's very mystical and in good taste."

We agree, and think the bridge would draw additional visitors to the village, if only to satisfy their curiosity.

It ought to be approved.

© 2001 Greenfield Recorder / all rights reserved.