Arts
6:48 pm
Wed October 24, 2012

Nasher/Museum Tower Drama Builds: Mediator Quits

The sun-scorched dispute between the Nasher Sculpture Center and the 42-story Museum Tower next door just got hotter. The mediator brought in to broker peace has quit.

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings says the departure of Tom Luce as mediator adds to the difficulty of coming up with a solution. Luce stepped in six months ago at Rawlings’ request.

“He’s got other things to do,” Rawlings said. “And he’s smart enough to realize that you can’t dance with people when there’s a game of chicken going on."

On one side, the Nasher Sculpture Center says the sun's glare off the 42-story glass condo tower next door is frying the grass in the sculpture garden and raising temperatures inside the museum.

On the other side: Experts for the Dallas Police and Fire Pension Fund, which owns Museum Tower, call the Nasher’s claims pseudoscience and nonsense. A quorum of Pension board members toured the Nasher Monday, making the event an open public meeting. Rawlings says the public comment surrounding sensitive negotiation was the last straw for Luce.

“To be a facilitator and a mediator you have to have parties that are interested in maintaining confidences.” said Rawlings.

Listen to the full interview with KERA's BJ Austin & Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings

Pension Fund Board member, Councilman Jerry Allen agrees it’s a sensitive situation, but says the Nasher tour was a good thing.

“It allowed the trustees to go over and see first hand. Again, the whole purpose is to find a solution,” said Allen. “And by seeing it first hand and talking with the Nasher, and that’s so important to continue to talk. But seeing first hand, talking, it was beneficial.”

Rawlings says the Nasher needs to be protected, and the condos in the Tower must be marketable and sell. He says the stakes are high for everyone in Dallas, not just in the Arts District.

“Not only do we want our fire and our police to have great retirement benefits, but the citizens backstop all of this money,” said Rawlings. “So, this is citizen money that we invested and I think all the citizens want our Arts District to be one of the best in the world. And to do that we’ve got to make sure we work together as neighbors.”

Rawlings wants board members on each side to get more involved – saying it won’t be solved by the CEO’s.

“The boards have got to step up and say what’s the right thing to do for the city of Dallas, what’s the right thing to do for their constituents as they think through this. I’m sure they’ll do the right thing. It’s just a little more painful than I want it to be.”

Rawlings says he will not be taking Luce’s place as the new mediator.

The Pension board says it is investigating state-of-the-art solutions, from louvers and glass coatings to nanotechnology, and is committed to finding a solution.

R.tettamant Letter 10.24.12