Montrose, CO — Following a year-long local fundraising campaign that has collected over $130,000, members of the Save the Sculptures for Montrose Committee are seeking help from City Councilors to preserve two large bronze sculptures located in downtown.
The sculptures – "Bad Decision" at the intersection of Main Street and Townsend Avenue depicting a cowboy on horseback wrangling a deer and “Where Eagles Dare” at the intersection of Main Street and Uncompahgre Avenue, a massive depiction of a grizzly battling an eagle – were each created by artist Vic Payne of Cody, Wyoming. The works have been in Montrose under a loan agreement established in 2012, and have a combined market value of over $980,000, according to the committee.
The owner, William F. Widger Revocable Trust, has offered to sell the sculptures for a negotiated price of $250,000.
During Monday’s City Council Work Session, Save the Sculptures for Montrose Committee Chair Bob Brown said the committee is pledging $130,907 it has raised, along with a grant of around $30,000 from the Montrose Downtown Development Authority, bringing the total amount raised for the sculptures to around $160,000.
Brown said that while the committee has raised over half the expected purchase price for the two sculptures, it seems unlikely that it will raise the remaining funds before the loan agreement expires on April 12.
Brown said the committee has the "solid support of the community" and is asking the City Council to appropriate the remaining funds.
Brown said the committee felt it was time to "turn this deal over to the city to close."
"We would be available to help and do anything we can do," Brown said.
Councilors debated several options that include renegotiating a reduced price with the owner, breaking the remaining balance — of about $90,000 — into a series of annual payments, or declining to purchase the sculptures altogether.
Councilor Judy Ann Files floated the idea of paying the balance off within a few years.
"I think that is a possibility," Brown responded.
The Save the Sculptures for Montrose Committee was formed in late 2016 to assess local interest in keeping the sculptures in Montrose and to raise money for their purchase.
"We found overwhelming support for keeping the sculptures in Montrose from local citizens and visitors alike," the committee said in a letter to the council Monday.
In June 2018 Brown told councilors during a work session that keeping the sculptures in Montrose is a "win-win" because the sculptures have become part of the community's downtown identity, and the price of the works is more affordable than ever. At that same meeting, Brown reported the committee had received over 450 donations and more than 900 local signatures of support on a petition to retain the sculptures.
Brown reported Monday that the petition has now generated a total of 1,020 signatures.
Councilors agreed to meet in executive session in early February to advise staff on moving forward with negotiations. City Attorney Stephen Alcorn said any agreement the city negotiates requires the approval of the City Council in an open meeting.
City Manager Bill Bell said the city's Development and Revitalization Team (DART) could lead the negotiating effort on behalf of the council.
Mayor Roy Anderson said new negotiations would provide more information for councilors to consider before finalizing any agreement by vote.
“We already have a substantial down payment,” Anderson said, referring to the Save the Sculptures committee and DDA financial commitments.
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.(Video clips from the January 14, 2019 Work Session are available upon request)