Crew finds note atop table pyramid at Manito

Jesse Tinsley photo

Using a bucket lift surrounded by caution tape, Miles Cooley of the Spokane Parks Department clears the hazard lights lined up on a giant stack of picnic tables at Manito Park Friday, Aug. 10, 2012. Pranksters have built and left such stacks on at least two occasions this summer, requiring city employees to bring equipment used to prune trees to the site to safely unstack the tables.

August 10, 2012 4:54 p.m. - Updated: 5:56 p.m.

City workers made an unexpected find while deconstructing the latest mysterious picnic table pyramid at Manito Park this afternoon.

An Urban Forestry crewman discovered a note addressed to park employees at the top of the stack of 36 tables. The note was signed “SKFS.”

It made references to recently constructed table pyramids at Riverfront Park and revealed that two teens are responsible for the latest stacking in Manito.

“We heard that our riverfront table pyramids cost $500 each to remove,” the note reads, “yet they only took 4 teens 25 min to assemble sans equiptment! Please stop wasting taxpayer dollars.”

The pyramid is the second at Manito this summer and the fourth in Spokane. City workers discovered a larger nine-level stack of 45 tables Tuesday morning at Riverfront Park.

The latest stack was topped with a number of lights or reflectors that appeared to be taken from road-block signs.

Officials are baffled about where those came from, said city spokeswoman Ann Deasy. The Street Department has not received any reports of missing lights or reflectors from road block signs, and none appear to have been taken from the nearby construction site on 29th Ave.

“It takes considerable effort to take those off,” Deasy said.

The Urban Forestry crew put plans to prune some potentially dangerous branches at Audubon Park on the backburner to carefully deconstruct the latest table pyramid.

“We get taken away from our jobs that we’re supposed to be out doing, because nobody else has the equipment to take these down safely,” said crew member Shawn Craigen.

Craigen’s colleague Andy Thew laughed in disgust at the note.

“I like that,” Thew joked. “We can’t use taxpayer money efficiently if we have to keep coming to do this.”

The note concludes, “With hard work, anything is possible.” It also touches upon a bigger debate that has arisen in response to the pyramids: Are they art or vandalism? The note states that the pyramids are art.

City Arts Director Karen Mobley isn’t so sure about that.

“I don’t know whether it’s art or whether it isn’t,” Mobley said.

Artists should take into consideration the consequences of their creations, she said. In this case, she says, the ones who stacked the tables should be more concerned about the safety of the crews who take them down.

“There is a sort of human cost to that kind of expression,” Mobley said.

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