A sign instructs the public to avoid the 'Chain Reaction' sculpture. (File photo)

“Chain Reaction” is finally getting a check-up.

The Landmarks Commission tightened up the recommendations from city officials before approving testing on the controversial structure located on Main Street near Pico Boulevard.

Landmarks Commissioners were concerned with the suggested language, which included “the safe removal of all chains” to allow access to the interior of the sculpture — a gift to City Hall in the early 1990s from the Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Paul Conrad.

Because “Chain Reaction” is a designated landmark, the Landmark Commission has to give permission for any changes to be made to the structure.

In 2012, city officials said that the aging sculpture posed a threat to public safety. Costs to repair the sculpture, they said at the time, could be $400,000. City Council asked the public to raise funds to save the sculpture and supporters, with the self-designated nickname of the Chain Gang, collected more than $100,000. One year ago, council voted to accept that cash and cover the difference.

Since then, the Chain Gang has grown tired of the chain link fence that will surround the sculpture until it’s deemed safe.

City officials kicked off the Landmarks Commission meeting on Monday by noting that they were not in favor of removing all the chains but only those that are necessary.

“Only the minimal amount of chain links for adequate access shall be disturbed and not necessarily removed for purposes of allowing, for the additional structural testing,” Landmarks Commissioners amended the final certificate to say. “Removal of the chain link shall be avoided accept to the extent necessary to perform the inspection of the structural integrity without removing the structure’s cap.”

The Chain Gang is opposed to removing the mushroom cloud-shaped sculpture’s cap, saying it would be extremely invasive. City officials agreed to recommend testing that would not include cutting off the cap but noted that it may be necessary down the line. Any changes beyond those approved by the commission on Monday night will have to go back to the commission for approval at a later date.

The commission added requirements that the art conservator tasked with testing the structure must come back before the commission before making any repairs. The conservator also has to meet with the heir of the artist, Paul Conrad’s son, Dave Conrad, to share the results of the testing.

The conservator has to document all changes to the existing condition of the sculpture.

Testing could begin after the appeal process ends next week.

The conservator has to return to the commission with an updated report in three months. At that time, the commission could decide to request more frequent updates.

Several members of the public spoke at the commission meeting on Monday night, mostly in favor of the commission’s pursuit of less invasive testing.

The testing was approved unanimously by the six commissioners present.


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