On Monday evening [Nov. 28], the city voted 5-3 in favor of a resolution to permit Gary Hoelzer, city administrator, to begin negotiations with the Donald L. Koch Charitable Foundation for the gifting and placement of a new statue.
The “Declaration of Independence” would depict Thomas Jefferson sitting on a bench with a quill pen and parchment, authoring the Declaration of Independence. The statue would be life-sized and made of bronze. The artist is George Lundeen, who specializes in life-size bronze statues of people and animals. Lundeen lives and works in Loveland, Colo. and is a member of the National Academy of Design and the National Sculpture Society.
Donald L. Koch, founder and president of Koch Asset Management, a financial firm located in St. Louis, is the potential donor. The Koch Foundation was established in the 1990s and is dedicated to helping children understand the importance of historic documents like the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights.
The statue costs about $90,000 plus an additional $10,000 to ship it to Town & Country, according to Alderman Skip Mange [Ward 1.] An exact location for it and the potential cost to the city are undecided but the foundation would pay for some of the costs, including purchasing and shipping the statue. Discussion is also underway regarding the need for insuring the statue alongside the existing “Discovery” statue, which could cost another $900 to $1000 a year.
“I’m not going to say there would be no costs to the city, but it’s not going to be much and that’s all part of the details,” Mange said.
The resolution’s acceptance by the council does not mean the offer has been officially accepted but merely permits negotiations to begin before a final decision is made. Opposed to the statue are aldermen Linda Rallo [Ward 4], Lindsey Butler [Ward 2] and Tiffany Frautschi [Ward 2]. They wanted to know more details about potential costs to the city and specific location opportunities.
According to Alderman Johnathan Benigas [Ward 4], the gift from the foundation might lead to even more artistic opportunities in the city’s future.
“Getting the ball to roll down the hill is a very difficult thing to do but once it’s rolling down the hill, it can really gain some momentum fast,” Benigas said. “I really think this could provide momentum, so we can have other people that show interest donating art to the community instead of us having to come up with the money from the city.”