Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Gray: Streetcar on display at Prince/Chestnut is "public art"

The streetcar on prominent display on the city-owned parcel of land next to the police station at the corner of Prince St. and Chestnut St. was placed there at the request of the Lancaster Streetcar Company and approved by Mayor Rick Gray himself, NewsLanc learned Tuesday night.

Interestingly, Mayor Rick Gray refused to answer the NewsLanc reporter's questions during the public comment section of City Council's agenda, saying "This is public comment, not question and answer. If you want to ask me questions, I'd be glad to answer them afterwards..."

Following the meeting, after again insisting "it's public comment, not public debate," the Mayor acknowledged that the streetcar was placed there free of charge at the request of the Lancaster Streetcar Company.

So we asked him whether adversaries of the streetcar project could also post signs or materials in that area.

Gray replied, "They could try" but went on to admit that such requests probably wouldn't be approved, repeatedly calling the trolley "public art."

"If it was a big sign they wanted to put up saying 'Let's have a trolley car,' I'd say no, you can't put it up," he said

"I don't think I'd approve signs for or against."

"But by putting a trolley there, doesn't it give the perception that the city is endorsing this concept?" the reporter asked.

"The Mayor is endorsing it," Gray said.

"The Mayor, but the City has not taken a position on it one way or another," the reporter began to counter.

Gray replied that "a couple of years ago" a presentation was made on the project to city council and that city council had approved funds to hire a consultant to submit grant applications for project funding - grant applications which were not approved at the time.

"I don't think it's a free speech question," Gray said in response to further questioning.

"Keep on fighting it. You don't want people to see it... You're afraid of people seeing that and thinking it's a good idea," Gray alleged.