Whether you think Christo is a genius or a hack, he is inarguably a patient man. After first conceiving of "Over the River" in 1992, today he became one step closer to realizing his vision. This morning, Fremont County Commission voted unanimously to approve his temporary use permit. This permit was the penultimate hurdle for Christo and his team for full approval for "Over the River." The installation is set to suspend 5.9 miles of fabric over a 42-mile stretch of the Arkansas River.
From its inception, "Over the River" has been shrouded in controversy, initially over the environmental impact of covering such a large portion of the river. These concerns were somewhat mitigated when the Bureau of Land Management approved the project last November. In the Fremont County public hearing in February, many residents continued to question the project.
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Though Christo will fund the construction of the installation himself and "Over the River" is estimated to bring in $121 million in total economic output throughout Colorado, tourist dollars means tourist traffic. In February, law students from DU filed suit against the Bureau of Land Management on behalf of the anti-Christo activist group Rags Over the Arkansas River over environmental and traffic worries.
The project, which was initially slated for the summer of 2014, was pushed back to 2015 in February.
Since the project's public hearing in early February, the Fremont County board has tabled a vote on the permit twice. But now with permission from Fremont County, the next and final step for Christo is a special events permit from the neighboring Chaffee County. The Over the River team hopes to submit their application there in the coming weeks.
More from our Follow That Story archive: "Christo's 'Over the River:' High art meets the local commute in the Wall Street Journal."