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Some doubt Durham County spent $520,000 on an art screen in a parking garage

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DURHAM, NC (WNCN) – On Monday night, Durham County Commissioners voted to spend half a million dollars on an art wall to be installed on the side of a new parking garage being built at 318 East Main Street.

The commissioners unanimously voted to spend $520,000 on an art screen, and that funding will come from the county’s general appropriations fund.

The county approved Parasoleil, a Colorado-based company, to design the art wall. It will feature images of local summer trees including Black Gum, Tulip Poplar and Dogwood. It will also include winter trees that are Sassafras, Red Oak, and Magnolia.

However, as Durham County continues to struggle with gun violence and affordable housing, some people in Durham told CBS 17 they felt those half a million dollars should have been spent on other things in the county.

“My first thought was, ‘Is this a joke?'” said Delbert Jarmon, who lives in Durham. “We have all sorts of issues and problems with homelessness, streets that need paving and unaffordable housing.”

Tracey Chipps said she believes the money could have gone towards tackling the gun violence problem.

“You hear about shootings almost every day around here,” Chipps said. “I had to lie down on my bedroom floor to hide during a shooting near my house. What money do we spend on gun violence?”

Kali Redner said she would like to see money being spent on art, but would like it to go to local artists.

“I think Durham is inherently an artist town,” Redner said. “I think using that money to keep art in Durham is great, but only if it’s local artists or black artists.”

CBS 17 reached out to county officials Tuesday to comment on why they decided to spend more than $500,000 on the art wall.

No one was available to speak on camera, but Durham County Commissioner Wendy Jacobs said investing in this project was consistent with her public arts policy, where officials are committed to bringing beauty to the county .

But some people in the county are wondering if now is the time to invest in it and if it should cost $520,000.

“We need more police officers, psychiatrists and we have many problems,” Jarmon said. “I feel like that half a million dollars could have been spent a little better.”

https://www.cbs17.com/news/local-news/durham-county-news/some-question-durham-county-spending-520000-on-art-screen-at-parking-garage/ Some doubt Durham County spent $520,000 on an art screen in a parking garage

DUSTIN JONES

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