A project to create a memorial for baseball legend Roberto Clemente in the Bronx has come to a frustrating and expensive end for artist Lewis DeSoto, DNAinfo reports. SoBro, a nonprofit dedicated to strengthening the community of the South Bronx, first suggested the idea for a memorial when the busy intersection at 149th street, Third, Melrose, and Willis avenues was renovated by the New York City Department of Transportation in 2008. Desoto’s design, a five-story tower that included a poem written by the humanitarian ballplayer, was chosen due to its sensitive and powerful interpretation of Clemente’s spirit and life’s work both on and off the field.
However, the Public Design Commission required expensive revisions to the design, making contrary demands each time, and Desoto was eventually forced to abandon the project when the cost of development and research — as per the PDC’s requirements — became prohibitively high.
The PDC has been accused of keeping inconsistent policies with a disregard for long-term costs, and DeSoto — who has done public works in cities including Phoenix, San Francisco, and Seattle — became furious with the “capricious” nature of the PDC. At the time of Desoto’s resignation, an audit was released by the office of the City Comptroller, saying that the PDC reviews designs with no standardized methods, and pointed toward a project that had been changed repeatedly due to PDC demands, resulting in an additional $3.5 million being added to the overall cost.
While Desoto has been left with five years of his work gone and only half of his expected termination fee of $10,000, a new artist will be designing a Clemente memorial, which will be installed during the intersection’s 18-month reconstruction starting this fall.
— Meredith Caraher
(Image: A 1955 Topps trading card of Roberto Clemente. Via.)