Vandalism at art park lighter than feared
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Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News
Mel Rudin, left, and Vicci Rudin, president of the board at the Port Angeles Fine Arts Center, assess "Spring Shrub," by Port Townsend artist John Lizcwinko on Wednesday at Webster's Woods art park in Port Angeles.

By Jeremy Schwartz
Peninsula Daily News

PORT ANGELES — Volunteers surveying damage to about three dozen outdoor art installations at the Port Angeles Fine Arts Center on Wednesday said that many were not actually broken during last week's vandalism.

The majority of damaged pieces had just been pushed off their bases, volunteers said, suggesting the highest repair costs might simply be in the labor and time it will take to replant the installations.

“Which I think is good news,” said center Executive Director Robin Anderson.

“Maybe we can get some volunteers.”

The vandalism reported last Thursday at Webster's Woods — a 5-acre art park surrounding the center — damaged at least 35 outdoor art pieces, Anderson said.

Police on Wednesday reported no new leads into the investigation of the vandalism at 1203 E. Lauridsen Blvd.

“So far, we haven't heard from anybody,” said Port Angeles Police Officer John Nutter, who is in charge of the investigation.

The park has been closed to public access since the vandalism was discovered.

Anderson said she is planning to have a firm damage assessment done and have the park reopened — even if repairs aren't complete — by the end of January.

“I've set that as a personal goal,” she said.

Vicci Rudin, president of the center's board, and her husband, Mel Rudin, were among a handful of people who spent about two hours Wednesday morning surveying the Webster's Woods grounds and assessing the damage.

The goals of the assessment are to determine how much damage was done to each piece, if it can be repaired and, if so, to figure out a more “vandal-proof” way to reinstall the piece, Vicci Rudin said.

“Though nothing is vandal-proof,” Mel Rudin added.

Anderson said the damage assessments will allow her to figure out exactly which artists to call to ask if they're interested in taking on repair work, adding that she'll make those calls once the assessments are complete.

“We've got a plan on how we're moving forward, and we're at step one,” she said.

Anderson has also been in talks with officials from the city, which owns the center, about how the Parks and Recreation Department will be involved in repairing the pieces.

Bob Coons, the city's human resources director and risk manager, said the city has blanket insurance coverage for all the city's buildings and their contents with a $25,000 deductible, meaning repairs will have to top $25,000 for the insurance payments to kick in.

Coons said the city is waiting on the damage assessments to send to the Washington Cities Insurance Authority, which manages insurance policies for multiple Washington cities, adding that it could take a few weeks after the assessments are sent for the city to hear back about coverage.

In his 26 years working for the city, Coons said he has heard of a handful of Webster's Wood pieces being vandalized, “but nothing to this extent.”

Vicci Rudin said she hopes the vandalism will reinforce with city officials the need for increased security.

She said she knows city officials highly value the arts center and Webster's Woods.

“The city cares a lot about this facility,” Rudin said.

Rudin said she heard about the damage and saw pictures via an email from Anderson soon after it happened but had not seen the damage for herself until her survey of the art park.

“It's like something you love has been violated,” Rudin said, describing her feelings at first hearing about the vandalism, “but [the vandals] not going to get away with it.”

Anyone with information can phone the Port Angeles Police Department at 360-452-4545 or North Olympic Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477. The case number is 2012-22470.

Crime Stoppers, which accepts anonymous tips, offers rewards of up to $1,000 for information that leads to arrests.



Reporter Jeremy Schwartz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5074, or at jschwartz@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: December 26. 2012 6:12PM
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