As a political icon, the nation's 40th president isn't exactly in the shadows of history. But in Newport Beach he is — in statue form — in "a lonely cul-de-sac" in Bonita Canyon Sports Park, where his bronze likeness has been vandalized and neglected, Mayor Kevin Muldoon said.
"I think this is not fitting of a statue honoring a former president," Muldoon said.
Following a 5-1 city council vote this week, the life-size statue will be moved to Civic Center Park outside City Hall.
The park, Newport Beach's central public arts site, is home to rotating sculpture installations as well as a colony of concrete bunnies and several brightly painted cow figures representing Ronald McDonald House Charities.
During a council meeting, Muldoon said Civic Center Park was the Reagan statue's intended home and that it was one of his goals to get it there.
Councilman Scott Peotter agreed. In a discussion about awarding a management contract for the rotating Civic Center art installations, Peotter expressed reservations about the financial sustainability of the public arts program. But he said he would support the commitment if the city agreed right then to a remedy for Reagan.
"I'll continue my support on this if they're willing to [move] our president out of the cul-de-sac," he said.
Arts OC, a countywide nonprofit arts council, will remain on board through the next four years of the sculpture program, with a $105,731 contract to provide coordination, site management and artist payments.
Sculptures created by artists from across the nation are selected 10 at a time to sit in Civic Center Park for two years on a rotating schedule. The sculptures from the second phase will be removed this summer and pieces for the third phase will be installed this fall. Funding comes from the Visit Newport Beach Arts Contributions budget.
Moving the Reagan statue would mean the city could draw only nine new sculptures this year to keep within budget. But because the statue would be a permanent fixture, it would save the expense of removing it.