Constant exposure to road chemicals at the busy junction of 119th Street and Blue Valley Parkway has become such a threat to a blue steel sculpture there that Overland Park officials are deciding whether or not to move it.
The piece known as “Shim Sham Shimmy” by sculptor David Stromeyer has been steadily deteriorating since it was installed in 2007. The problem has become serious enough that city officials are proposing that its eventual move and replacement be included in the next capital improvement budget.
No new location was cited, but city documents indicate that if moved, ‘Shim Sham Shimmy’ would be moved somewhere without the chemical hazards that threaten it at its current triangular location on the busy intersection. .
If approved, the move would not take place until at least 2025, according to city documents.
Roald salts damaging the sculpture
The problem is road salts, said Julie Bilyea, the city’s recreation supervisor in charge of arts and events.
Cold-weather road treatment is corrosive to tread just as it is to automobiles, she said. City crews have repaired its chipped paint several times, despite its thick powder coat finish meant to protect the metal.
“Unlike a car, we can’t drive this to the car wash,” she said.
The location with heavy traffic on three sides adds to the problems, she said. With continued corrosion, Bilyea said officials realize “we have to do something here.”
The question will be whether to commit to larger repairs every ten years or move and restore the sculpture and replace it with something less vulnerable to chemicals, she said.
The piece, which is 18 feet tall and 26 feet in diameter, has sometimes been referred to as the “blue potato chips” because its main feature is thin oval shapes connected to each other.
But its real name – “Shim Sham Shimmy” – refers to the Kansas City area’s prominence in the early 20th century jazz scene.
Shim Sham Shimmy was a tap dance or line dance often played as a finale in jazz halls in the 1920s and 1930s. The blue shapes represent taps and the soles of dancers’ shoes, Bilyea said.
Officials put the cost or relocation of the artwork at around $300,000, with half of that total coming from the city and the other half from private donations.
This is an estimate and does not specify if a replacement sculpt would be included. The Overland Park Arts and Recreation Foundation is often called upon to fundraise for such projects, but no deal has yet been finalized.
The capital improvement budget is a forecast of likely expenditures for improvements the city needs to make to its properties and infrastructure over the next five years.
The potential removal and replacement of “Shim Sham Shimmy” is proposed for the 2023-2027 budget cycle, which has yet to be approved by the city council.
Roxie Hammill is a freelance journalist who frequently reports for the Post and other Kansas City-area publications. You can reach her at [email protected]