The Rockwall County Commissioners Court met Tuesday in a workshop session to discuss a potential art project in downtown Rockwall, a sculpture titled “Discovery,” among other issues.
Former Heath Mayor Lorne Liechty, a major supporter of the project, explained its importance and progress to the court.
“A city is known by its art,” Liechty said, “and this will be something Rockwall will become known for. I guarantee you that when people come to visit our city, this will be a thing people specifically come to see and take pictures with.”
The statue is to be a life-sized, bronze-cast representation of Terry Utley Wade, Benjamin Boydstun and William Clay Stevenson, the three men who first discovered Rockwall’s titular rock “wall,” once thought to be a mysterious ancient man-made structure but now believed by geologists to be a natural rock formation of sandstone dikes that, when broken up, resemble a wall formed of carved sandstone blocks.
Liechty, sculptor Jim Bryant and the Rockwall Arts Commission hope the art installation can find a home on the grounds of the Rockwall Historic Courthouse downtown.
County Judge David Sweet weighed in, with the caveat that he does serve as the appointed chairman of the Arts Commission, saying that the commission will discuss the matter in the coming weeks, but adding that “At the end of the day, I think the location makes the most sense, and I think we can work out an agreement to get some financial backing from the county.”
Bryant, a retired undercover FBI agent and past president of the Rockwall Art League, won a county-wide competition with his sculpture design, meant to capture Rockwall’s place in history.
Another major issue discussed at Tuesday’s workshop, presented by Precinct 2 Commissioner Lee Gilbert, was potential renovations to the parking lots surrounding the downtown Historic Courthouse.
In addition to being the primary parking for the downtown courts and offices for the commissioners and county judge, the lots also see high traffic housing the farmers’ market on Saturday mornings.
Claudette Hatfield, a founder of the Rockwall Farmers’ Market and member of Rockwall Friends of Downtown, addressed the court, saying “With all the attention we’ve given to the downtown area, from our beautiful courthouse and businesses, it’s hard to see toddlers, or seniors with walkers or anyone else struggling to walk around the farmers’ market, or from their cars to the courthouse doors.”
Sweet weighed in on the issue as well, saying “I absolutely and one-hundred percent agree that this needs to be fixed, and I’ve thought that for a long time.”
Sweet expressed concern that the issue be handled with more than just a few asphalt patches, and Hatfield agreed.
“I would like for this to be addressed in the next county budget. Patching it is one thing, but I don’t want us to get complacent about it, saying we can patch it now and fix it later,” Hatfield added.
“I would be in favor of looking over this in the next budget and doing this in the proper matter,” Precinct 4 Commissioner David Magness said.