MAIN STREET — After a year of nail-biting fundraising, advocates of “Chain Reaction” can breath a small sigh of relief.
City Hall will pay for the restoration of the sculpture, with more than $40,000 worth of help from advocates, if City Council approves a recommendation from city officials.
City officials have questioned the safety of the sculpture, designed and donated by the late Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Paul Conrad. There are concerns that its interior structure may be compromised, suffering from wear and tear.
The estimated cost of repair has ranged from $85,000 to $550,000.
Last February, council gave advocates a year to raise the cash to cover the cost of repairs with a promise that they would match up to $50,000.
The decision to recommend that City Hall pick up the tab came in the past few weeks, said City Manager Rod Gould. The grassroots fundraising played a large part in the decision, he said.
“I think it’s relatively easy to sign a petition,” Gould said. “But the funding raised by the community will defray the cost of rebuilding the sculpture.”
More than 3,600 people signed petitions to save “Chain Reaction” and more than $40,000 has been raised with additional fundraisers coming before the Feb. 25 council meeting.
If other community groups ask for capital funding to be put toward a project, Gould said, City Hall can point to the fact that “Chain Reaction” advocates raised a significant amount of money.
“Chain Reaction” gained landmark status in 2012 and so whatever council decides will be reviewed by the Landmarks Commission. The commission recently voted to pen a letter to council, recommending that they ask for clarification as to the specific cost of repairs. They were warned by a city attorney that if they made remarks that showed any kind of bias, they could be disqualified from decision-making meetings.
Jerry Rubin, an activist who has been leading the fundraising charge, is cautiously optimistic.
“We’re not done yet,” he said. “I’m confident that council will do the right thing. In fact, I’m hoping it is a unanimous vote.”
Conrad, who gave “Chain Reaction” to City Hall in the early 1990s, would be turning 90 years old in June and Rubin wants to celebrate his birthday around the sculpture.
“It’s pretty clear that the community in Santa Monica, and really all over the world, love this piece of art,” he said. “It seems likely that we can all stand together in unity and honor Paul Conrad and his sculpture.”