Plan For Public Art At RPB Village Hall Is All About Community

The Royal Palm Beach Planning & Zoning Commission received a detailed presentation Tuesday, April 23 on the newly commissioned work of public art to be displayed at the new Royal Palm Beach Village Hall.

First, the commissioners had to support the relocation of the piece, which was intended to be installed in the middle of a water feature. They unanimously supported the new location for artist Beth Nybeck’s “Rooted” sculpture, which will be at the north end of the reflection pool and not directly in the water.

This change helped preserve the budget for public art, while also addressing the challenges installation and maintenance would bring for this specific project.

Village Public Art Professional Mario Lopez-Pisani had the artist online to give a presentation about her work and answer questions about the planned piece.

“I create large-scale metal sculptures for cities, universities, airports and in public spaces across the country. Part of the history and brainstorming that went into this piece, I had the opportunity to interview all of the members of the Royal Palm Beach Village Council,” Nybeck said. “It was really insightful. Within those interviews, there were common themes. The first was parks, how important parks are to your community.”

She went on to explain that other common themes included nature, family and a sense of home.

“Rooted” is a three-dimensional structure similar to a tree, with large panels inspired by the water pathways through a leaf. Within the sculpture, there will be 50 spaces designated to hold the responses of community members to various questions asked by the artist.

“A huge part of my work is community engagement. I will go into a community, and the artwork will reflect a certain story,” Nybeck said. “One of the things I found interesting about your community is there are a lot of transplants, people who have come here from somewhere else and have found this home. I want to ask your community, ‘When did this place start to feel like home to you? When did you feel rooted, a sense of belonging?’”

The purpose of the structure is to engage, inspire and connect the community. This is why the location for the artwork is in a highly pedestrian-trafficked area, with benches nearby. The concept is that the words within the piece will encourage interaction and conversation.

“[Nybeck] will come to the village, perhaps for an event that is well attended. She will ask the residents questions, and that will inform the phrasing and letters that will be inside the sculpture,” Lopez-Pisani said.

Commissioner Kara Dery voiced a concern about the project.

“I think the artwork is beautiful. I think it’s a really cool concept in general. My only concern is, are there certain things we’re not allowing to be said? How are we making sure there is not something possibly controversial in the words? Words do hold meaning, whereas art is more subjective,” Dery said.

Lopez-Pisani and Village Attorney Mitty Barnard assured her that staff involvement and the village code would guide the process of choosing verbiage for the sculpture.

“We won’t want anything that’s not affirming, or life giving or reflective of people’s hearts,” Nybeck said. “That’s the reason I love to include communities’ words and their stories. One of the things I’ve found is that people are really excited to be asked to be a part of something, and they have ownership. I’m cutting these things out of metal. To change once it’s installed is doable but a nightmare.”

The aluminum piece is 11 feet tall, 11.5 feet wide and 11.5 feet deep. The artist proposed installation on a six-inch pad of concrete to raise the structure, and the exterior will measure 13 feet in diameter overall. Four lights are included to illuminate the piece after dark. The laser-cut sections of the sculpture will ensure all edges are smooth and not a risk to patrons who choose to touch the piece.

Staff, and the commissioners, recommended approval under the condition that the artist provide the engineered wind loads required to put up the piece for permitting purposes and safety. “Rooted” will be constructed in Kansas City, where Nybeck is located, and then transported in pieces to Royal Palm Beach. The village plans to install the sculpture in-house.

In other business:

  • The commissioners chose Lauren McClellan to serve as chair and Kamar Williams to serve as vice chair over the next year.
  • Meeting as the Local Planning Agency, the board expressed concerns over a change to the definition to the term “engineering permit” in the village code.

“This is an ordinance that has come in tandem from the Community Development Department and the Engineering Department to address a couple of things. This is essentially the practice that the village is already utilizing, it just isn’t codified,” Barnard explained. “There are some provisions that are not currently in that Community Development has had a hard time with, not having support in the code to enforce certain things. I’ll give you an example — restriping parking lots. There is not clean language in the code to give code enforcement latitude, because that technically applies to new development. Once the development is built, it becomes the violation of a development order, which is harder to enforce.”

McClellan and Dery expressed concerns over inconsistency in the new language, citing “construction of a driveway for one- or two-family dwelling units is exempted from this engineering permit if a permit is obtained” was in some sections but not others.

Barnard suggested that the item be moved forward with a note that the language be added to the other sections. She agreed to confirm the needed language with Village Engineer Chris Marsh before the first council reading.

  • The Wells Fargo Bank at 11707 Okeechobee Blvd. was given approval to change its signage along with the national company’s rebranding. The colors are changing from yellow letters with a red outline to red letters on a plain background, or white letters against a red backdrop.
  • Novudentics, located at 11551 Southern Blvd., was previously an urgent care facility. The request by Signarama to change to a new logo was supported by both village staff and the commissioners.
  • La-La Land, a family-oriented indoor playground facility, located at 10109 Southern Blvd., has been working for over a year to install signage at the property. With code requirements recently changed, staff recommended denial. After the commissioners learned that the owners are in the process of getting their logo trademarked — which would allow them to have a multi-colored sign — they approved the request unanimously.