Saturday, June 12, 2010
State Board Has No Say in Paolo's Fate
By Dan Mayfield
Journal Staff Writer
SANTA FE — Alan Watson said he feels "impotent" because he can't do anything to save the historic Paolo Soleri Amphitheatre.
Watson is the chairman of the state's Cultural Properties Review Committee, which grants official historic status to buildings and sites in the state. Though his board usually has authority over the fate of important buildings in the state, it can't do anything about the "impending probable demolition" of the amphitheater, he said.
"I feel totally helpless," he said. "Authority? We have absolutely none, and there is very little we can do. The more I look at it, the more frustration it is I feel. I have no authority to make any difference. I feel pretty impotent."
Since rumors began swirling in May that the amphitheater would be torn down, there has been a public outcry to save it, and the committee held a meeting Friday to discuss its options. The 45-year-old amphitheater, designed by famed architect Paolo Soleri, is on the campus of the Santa Fe Indian School, just off Cerrillos Road in Santa Fe.
No members of the school's management attended the meeting in the Roundhouse. Santa Fe Indian School superintendent Everett Chavez was unavailable for comment Friday.
Since the SFIS and the amphitheater are on tribal land, they are out of the state or city of Santa Fe's jurisdiction, said acting state historic preservation officer Jan V. Biella. Biella said that barring any federal loopholes, the school can do what it wants to the historic buildings on its property.
In 2008, to the consternation of many locals, the school demolished dormitories and classroom buildings designed by architect John Gaw Meem.
Biella said that in 1987, an application was created, though not submitted, to include the SFIS campus in a historic district.
There will be two final shows at the Paolo Soleri Amphitheatre, and one public memorial, this summer. Indie rock band Modest Mouse will play the venue July 9 and singer-songwriter Lyle Lovett is scheduled to perform at the last concert of the year on July 29. On June 20, the venue will host the Stewart L. Udall Public Memorial Service.