Leander debates unified city theme

Dinosaurs, a windmill and a water tower are top ideas

The Leander Public Arts Commission is counting on a new theme to unify the city.

Commission President Dustin Laycock said monthly talks have led to three theme frontrunners: windmills, water towers and dinosaurs.

"Those are three ideas that have been brought before us. We are still in the exploratory stages," he said. "We assigned members of our commission to look into each and come up with ideas for everything from how we can put physical structures out there that help better our community, as well as the economic impact estimate related to a theme like that."

The potential economic impact is yet to be determined, but Laycock said the commission seeks to finalize a solid proposal for City Council within the next three to six months.

"If we have something that citizens can kind of rally around, a common community theme, it can help make Leander a better place to live," he said. "There are a lot of places that have kind of taken a theme like this that's rooted in their history and developed an entire tourism program around it."

Kirk Clennan, Public Arts Commission city liaison, pointed to cities such as nearby Hutto, where the community has adopted a hippopotamus theme based on folklore. A few findings in Leander involve prehistoric times, including the dinosaur tracks at San Gabriel Creek and the unburied remains of a "Leanderthal Lady" discovered in 1982. According to the Williamson County Historical Commission, the person lived 10,000–30,000 years ago.

"Two things have always been important to the public arts commission, regardless of the commissioners, and that's history and children," Clennan said. "So how do we engage our children in our history so they have a sense of pride and place?"

Dinosaurs could be the way to engage children, Commissioner Ed Kelly said.

"We're trying to get everything involved in the theme, from the running trails to playground equipment," he said. "I think it's a good theme to get children involved in."

But translating the idea of a dinosaur—or any other theme—across the city could be a challenge if the interpretation is too narrow, Clennan said. Homeowners associations, developers, artists and architects would ideally have the freedom to apply themed art in their own creative ways across many media.

"It would also mean that we undertake and incorporate, as a city, a variation of that theme, whether it be on a relief, a mosaic, etching, painting on a building somewhere or anything else," Clennan said. "I'm not going to suggest that the art commission tell you, 'This is what it needs to look like.' We could draw up some parameters, but for the most part, if you have a contemporary or traditional interpretation, start doing that."


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