PORTSMOUTH Retired 42-year Prescott Park gardener Michael Warhurst received three rounds of applause Monday night when the City Council voted to accept a $100,000 sculpture commissioned in his honor, to place it in Prescott Park and delegate funds for its maintenance.
The nonprofit group Friends of Prescott Park raised the $100,000 and group president Charles Lassen previously said about 150 donations contributed to meeting the financial goal. The granite sculpture will be made by Richard Erdman and is titled “Odyssey the journey of life.”
City Manager John Bohenko said Art-Speak, the city’s Cultural Commission, recommended accepting the sculpture and city ordinance requires 10% of the value be placed in a trust for future upkeep. Recognizing the volunteer group had already raised significant funds for the sculpture, Bohenko recommended it be required to contribute $2,500 and the city designate $7,500 from an Urban Development Action Grant (UDAG) account, with the total going into a trust for maintenance of Odyssey.
Bohenko said the UDAG money is not from local taxes and has been used in the past to contribute to the North Church spire restoration fund, as well as for development of the African Burying Ground Memorial.
“I think this is an appropriate use of the funds,” he said.
By unanimous vote of the City Council, Bohenko’s recommendation and the sculpture were accepted, prompting a second round of applause for Warhurst.
A trustee of the trust that manages Prescott Park, Phyllis Eldridge walked to the podium in front of the City Council and said, “No one deserves this more than Michael,” eliciting the third round of applause.
“For 42 years, he worked with his hands and his heart and he gave his all,” Eldridge said. “And at every trustees meeting, the Prescott sisters (who donated the park to the city) were there with him. He never let us forget what they had in mind.”
Warhurst did not speak during Monday’s council meeting but last year told the Portsmouth Herald hes humbled by the tribute.
Usually youre underground when that happens, he joked.