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Fixing what ails Watts Towers | Letters

While the rest of the world considers the Watts Towers...

June 26, 2003

While the rest of the world considers the Watts Towers a major masterpiece and the icon of its genre, this national landmark is treated at best casually -- doing a disservice to the community of Watts as well as to the world of art and tourists who might visit if they had any encouragement.

According to your story ("Issue Is Up in the Air," June 12), site curator Virginia Kazor has been looking for a cherry picker since March 2002, and she is still trying to arrange a loan from another city department. Fifteen months? Come on! Call Councilwoman Janice Hahn. It will take a day. The longer it takes to takes to identify the damage, the more it will cost to fix the problems. Even renting a cherry picker in 2002 would have been more than cost effective.

Seymour Rosen

Los Angeles

Seymour Rosen is president of Saving and Preserving Arts and Cultural Environments, a nonprofit preservation organization concerned with large-scale public art pieces like the Watts Towers.

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This letter comes from my 44-year Watts Towers involvement. I started as a volunteer, performing a stress analysis of the sculptures in 1959, designing and conducting a successful load test on the tallest tower the same year to stop a city attempt to get their demolition, and later serving as volunteer structures engineer for 44 years for the nonprofit Committee for Simon Rodia's Towers in Watts.

Christopher Reynolds' article was fine as far as it went. He found the city believes all is well. But it knows that shards are falling onto the patio. Falling shards mean weakened supporting members. The big omission in the interview with site curator Virginia Kazor was that the city neglected to prepare or maintain the important conservation documents needed for any possible future the complex towers may have a shot at. The article states the towers' city annual budget is almost $270,000. Two days' rental on a cherry picker would be about one-third of 1% of that budget and may have lengthened the towers' life by 10 years. Some of us are ready and eager to identify, analyze and solve the cracking problem. Maybe the city isn't.

N.J. Bud Goldstone

Los Angeles

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