FAM Update from the Board Chair, 2023 1Q
On January 21, 2023, I attended a meeting of the West Hollywood City Council meeting, during which the Council took action related to the construction process for the Monument.
MONUMENT CONTRUCTION PROCESS UPDATE
I wanted to give you an update on the construction process for the Monument because I know that many donors are concerned about the continued delays in the project. Believe me, our Board and I share those concerns!
City Staff recommended to the Council to do the following:
- cancel the prior RFP issued to find a contractor to construct and install the Monument;
- reject the one bid the City received under that RFP (which was far too expensive, among other problems);
- approve an amended MOU with FAM allowing for more flexibility in the process for hiring a contractor; and
- approve the hiring of architecture firm LPA to (a) explore value engineering for the Monument, in consultation with FAM and Daniel Tobin, thereby preserving the integrity of the design but finding ways where we might save money; and (b) create engineered drawings and final construction documents.
After LPA finishes the construction documents, then the City’s Arts & Cultural Affairs Committee must approve the construction documents. Thereafter, the City will create a new RFP seeking contractors to bid for the fabrication and installation of the Monument, and hopefully get multiple bids from which one contractor would be selected and hired.
Speaking on behalf of FAM, I thanked the Council and Staff for their continued support and hard work, expressed FAM’s willingness to explore cost-saving measures and our gratitude for Dan Tobin being re-engaged for this purpose.
I assured them that the Board is still very committed and excited to bring the Monument to life. The Council agreed with City Staff and took the requested actions outlined above.
Here are further notes which speak to, among other things, the City’s estimated timetable for the remaining stages for Monument construction:
- Councilmember John Erickson asked about a general timeline and milestone for this “very important project.” Ric Abramson, the City’s lead architect on the Monument project, gave this estimated timeline:
- 5-6 months to complete construction documents (ideally, this can be 4-5 months, according to Michael Barker from City Staff)
- 3 months to put out a new RFP (bid package)
- Thus, 8-9 months to come back to Council to approve the new RFP (which is roughly year-end 2023, latest)
- Then 2 months to “get a bid awarded.” So, if this timeline holds up, we should have a contractor hired early in 2024.
- Construction of Monument: 10–14 months after hiring the contractor.
- Councilmember John Heilman asked for a timeline to be provided to FAM in writing; he recognized how important it is for our major donors to understand the timeline and the City’s commitment to the project.
- Councilmember Lauren Meister commented on the “big difference between $5 million [the cost that the Council had approved a couple years ago] and $14 million [the price tag of the now-rejected bid]” and the importance of making adjustments to bring costs down.
- Councilmember Erickson thanked the City Staff and FAM Board, commended the stories we collect and present, and asked the Arts Department to promote what FAM is doing.
We appreciate your patience and understanding as we seek to find ways to reduce costs and preserve the design integrity of the Monument, and move along in the process of hiring a contractor to get this beautiful Monument built!
Speaking of the stories that FAM collects and presents, I wanted to update you on what we’ve been up to from a storytelling perspective in the past 3 months:
- Our website contains 3 new stories:
Jake Shears (former lead singer of Scissor Sisters) with a story about Liberace,
Vasilios Papapitsios about his personal journey towards accepting and loving his HIV, and
Torie Osborn’s story about how the LGBTQ+ community rose up to defeat Prop 64, the 1986 ballot proposition to quarantine people living with HIV/AIDS.
In addition, Peter Cashman is writing a story about trans activist and “AIDS Diva” Connie Norman. Randy Gardner and Tai Babilonia recorded stories about the impact of HIV/AIDS on the ice skating community.
We recently released stories by Peggy Callahan, who recorded a Valentine’s Day video to her late father, and Bruce Vilanch paying tribute to legendary disco songwriter Paul Jabara. For Black History Month, we re-released stories about TV anchor Max Robinson by Don Lemon, and about Major League Baseball player Glenn Burke by Sterling K. Brown.
We have seen significant increases in our followers on IG and Facebook this year. We recently launched a page on TikTok and have 15 postings up, including new content for Black History Month about historical and current Black HIV/AIDs activists (one of whom is our own Steve Simon and another is former Board member Phill Wilson), 2 videos from Imara Jones in honor of Trans Day of Visibility in which she pays tribute to two trans activists, and 2 videos from Traci Bivens-Davis that we repurposed from videos in our website Library.
- FAM is partnering with REACH LA for a STORIES circle for young people 18-35 years of age, largely from communities of color, to share their stories about how their lives have been impacted by HIV/AIDS. It will be held at the REACH LA facility downtown on the evening of Thursday May 25. “The Voice” Season 2 contestant Jamar Rogers, who is openly HIV positive and an AIDS activist, will be our featured storyteller. We will send updates about this event as we get closer to the event date.I hope you all have a lovely spring after a very soggy winter!Kindest Regards,Irwin M. Rappaport