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Textile artist protests city project with yarn bomb

Posted at 6:38 PM, Apr 24, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-24 21:23:43-04

SALT LAKE CITY — A textile artist protested a $2.8 million public utilities project by creating a “yarn bomb.”

City Creek Park on Fourth Avenue weaves together a tight-knit neighborhood.

The Seiler Family picnics under century-old trees nearly every warm day.

The family can expect one more summer in the trees’ shade before construction begins on a new pump station.

“It’s huge. It’s giant. We sort of joke it looks sort of like a Jiffy Lube; it's certainly out of place and will forever change the character of this park,” Winston Seiler said.

A 76-year-old water well is buried underneath the park and several mature trees. To bring it up to code, the Salt Lake City Public Utility Department said the equipment must be rebuilt above ground. In doing so, the city decided three trees must be cut down.

"It got to the point that in the middle of the night I would wake up and be like, I have this great idea for a project,” Katie Pugh said.

In protest of the pump station and losing the trees, Pugh spent three months knitting an art installation that is on the trees.

“I’m not super good at crochet because it should be flat. Mine have lumps and bumps,” Pugh said while pointing to her work.

Woven yarn around several trees highlights the tree’s importance to the neighborhood.

"Technically, it’s graffiti,” Pugh said. “It’s an art installation that’s easily put up and taken down. It doesn’t hurt anything. "

The art may not have much of an impact.

“It is an extremely important drinking water well on our system,” said Director of Salt Lake City Public Utilities Laura Briefer.

The underground well supplies downtown Salt Lake City with up to seven million gallons of water a day during the summer. It’s doesn’t meet code requirements; it’s dangerous for workers and the electrical work is so old, it cannot be repaired when it eventually breaks, Briefer said.

“That means the pump cannot work in the well, and the well is offline and all of those people in downtown Salt Lake City and other surrounding areas do not get this water supply,” she said.

Briefer said the department has already compromised with neighbors by cutting the square footage from 2,000 square feet to just over 800 and saving three other trees that were slated to be cut down.

The project was also pushed back one year to get more public input. Briefer said current renderings are still expected to change.

Neighbors still told FOX 13 they want the project moved off-site. The city estimates that option will cost $5.5 million.

Pugh’s art installation will be taken down at the end of the week. It may return in June for International Yarn Bomb Day.

The next public meeting will be held on May 9 at the park from 5-to-7:00 p.m.

To give your thoughts on the project and learn about the details, click here.