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Greendale Says 'No' to Norman Rockwell Sculpture in Village Center

Officials raise concerns about traffic safety issues and the lack of any historical ties between the famous painter and Greendale.

Visitors who come to Greendale for the first time often compare the village to a scene from a Normal Rockwell painting — a peaceful community with quaint shops, modest homes, and a white, wooden gazebo in the middle of downtown.

But don't expect to see a sculpture of the famous American artist erected in the Village Center any time soon, at least not on Village property.

That's because the Greendale Planning Commission Wednesday rejected an application from Grandhaven LLC. to erect a Norman Rockwell sculpture on village property.

A number of commissioners questioned the placement and the historical significance of Norman Rockwell in Greendale.

"Norman Rockwell wasn’t born here, he didn’t live here, and he didn’t paint a painting of Greendale."

The sculpture of the 20th Century painter would have been placed on village property near the intersection of Northway and Broad Street. Paid entirely by Grandhaven, the sculpture would have been a replica of the one that can be found inside the

Grandhaven is the landlord of the Village Center shops and is owned by Roy Reiman. Reiman is the founder of Reiman Publications and has been credited many times for restoring the vitality of the Village Center 15 years ago.

Village President John Hermes says while he appreciates Grandhaven’s gesture and supports the statue, he does not want it on village property.

“I don’t support it on village right-of-way,” Hermes. “The main reason is the historical significance of Norman Rockwell to this community. I would say that if we were going erect a statue, it should be of Franklin D. Roosevelt or Eleanor Roosevelt, or even Roy Reiman himself, who has played a significant role. No one can argue with that...Norman Rockwell wasn’t born here, he didn’t live here, and he didn’t paint a painting of Greendale.”

Trustee Sally Chadwick said she was in favor of it because she saw it as art.

Others were concerned that its placement on an already visually busy intersection could serve as an additional distraction for drivers.

“I’m uncomfortable with it,” said Commissioner Bernard  Schroedl. “I don’t think we need anymore distractions in the village. This particular corner is a distraction. The accident here to two years… we were there. We just don’t need something down there.”

Schroedl was referring to

Village Manager Todd Michaels and Director of Inspection Services Scott Satula said it’s not truly a hazard to traffic, but it can be a distraction people might look at, similar to a sign.

Commissioners suggested moving the location to a Grandhaven property where it would not be a distraction for drivers.

Grandhaven Manager Anne Marie Pierce said the idea came forth when people coming to the Greendale Visitors Center asked why the statue wasn’t outside on Broad Street.

Other commissioners said people might not even know who is Norman Rockwell.

“Visitors tend to know it’s Norman Rockwell because we are marketing in all the information sent out that we are like a Norman Rockwell town,” Pierce said.

Pierce also said the statue would have been an added element of interest. Moving it to another location would not have the same “wow impact” for visitors coming into the Village Center.

“The benefactor of the statue, the person paying for it, loves Norman Rockwell,” Pierce said. “So it would be a gift to the village and it would have also been something he enjoys. It’s like I said, it’s already inside and we were just trying to bring it outside so people could enjoy it.”

The Planning Commission voted 6-1 against the sculpture in that particular location, with Chadwick voting in favor.

Grandhaven could come back with a new location for the sculpture. 

Even though the comission rejected the application in its current placement Michaels said in an email, "The application will be further discussed at the July 5th Village Board meeting, at which time the Village Board will consider the request and take final action." 

Carol June 21, 2012 at 05:08 PM
I think a statue of Roy Reiman would be better. If it wasn't for Roy, there probably wouldn't be a Village Center worth looking at. He rejuvanated a dying Village after Sentry moved out. Doesn't he deserve some recognition?? Anyone agree?
Bren June 21, 2012 at 07:49 PM
I would agree. I also think celebrating Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt would also be appropriate. Most of all, I would like to see the Village board work with the Historical Society and Grandhaven to bring in branding/marketing experts. This would provide a valuable strategy and methodology to increasing Greendale's regional and national profile, and preserve the village's heritage for future generations while attracting retail services that meet the needs of area residents and visitors. Talk to Uihlein Architects, which specializes in historic restorations, talk to the other Greenbelt communities, Historic Old Town Alexandria and Colonial Williamsburg Foundations for insight, then prepare and post a brand/marketing RFP. I've provided the numbers for all of these organizations in earlier posts (except the Greenbelts).
KM June 22, 2012 at 12:21 AM
I also agree - Roy Reiman deserves recognition for the vital role he has played in the village! We moved here shortly after the Village Center was renovated and it certainly added to the charm of Greendale, when we were making our house decision. As others have mentioned here and on the original article, either FDR or Eleanor Roosevelt would also be ideal candidates for a statue. My husband attended the Village Board meeting when the Rockwell statue was first discussed to speak against it; very happy to hear about the Planning Commission's decision.
Matt M November 09, 2012 at 09:13 PM
the other Greenbelt communities are a shell, if that, of what they used to be

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