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Public art or public safety concern? Portsmouth debates Prescott Park 'love locks'

City officials say the "love locks" on Portsmouth's Prescott Park fence, seen here on June 23, 2023, have added too much weight and are considered a safety hazard.
Ian Lenahan
/
Seacoastonline
City officials say the "love locks" on Portsmouth's Prescott Park fence, seen here on June 23, 2023, have added too much weight and are considered a safety hazard.

This story was originally published by Seacoastonline. NHPR is republishing it in partnership with the Granite State News Collaborative.

The padlock-covered chain-link fence in Prescott Park will be assessed by the city's Public Art Review Committee to determine whether it qualifies as a piece of public art the municipality could display.

City Manager Karen Conard announced in June the “love locks” on the fence, covered with initials and messages by sweethearts near and far, would be removed. It was a safety concern due to the estimated hundreds of pounds of weight added by the locks onto the fence, she said.

Leaders of the Seacoast Repertory Theatre responded with a proposal to save the locks, which would be recycled or trashed, asking if the city would give a portion of the fence to the theater. The Bow Street theater’s plan was to put the fence on the set of its current musical "Hair," which began last week and will last until near the end of August, and later display the locks and fence outside the theater.

The item taken up at Monday’s City Council meeting called for the group to authorize Conard to release a portion of the fence to the Seacoast Repertory Theatre. At the suggestion of Councilor Kate Cook, however, the City Council instead agreed to have the Public Art Review Committee decide if the fence and the locks could be turned into a public art piece.

Continue reading the full story from Seacoastonline here.

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