(Neb.)-City of Alliance May Be Acquiring Tourist Attraction 'Carhenge'
(ALLIANCE)-The Panhandle’s Carhenge tourist attraction that resembles the infamous Stonehenge, only with cars, may eventually be owned by the City of Alliance.
According to KCOW in Alliance, Alliance Visitor’s Bureau director Kevin Howard and city manager J.D. Cox presented a due diligence report to the Alliance City Council Thursday morning, which recommended acquisition of the 26-year-old Stonehenge replica. The report stemmed from a December 2012 Friends of Carhenge request to have the city accept ownership of the property. The city council expressed interest in the acquisition and directed city staff to investigate the matter.
Friends of Carhenge board members provided a variety of reasons for offering the city the attraction, including the fact that the Nebraska Tax Equalization and Revenue Commission has ruled that Carhenge is no longer tax exempt and will be subject to property taxes beginning this year.
The Alliance Chamber of Commerce board of directors approved a resolution Thursday afternoon, endorsing the city’s acquisition of the property, noting its positive impact on Alliance in the form of tourism dollars and community notoriety.
City manager J.D. Cox says the council will probably act on the matter later this month or in July. If the acquisition takes place, it would be effective October 1st, the beginning date for the city’s next fiscal year.
Carhenge was built by Jim Reinders during a family reunion in 1987 as a memorial to his father, Herman Reinders. Thirty-eight automobiles were placed to assume the same proportions as Stonehenge with the circle measuring approximately 96 feet in diameter. Some autos are held upright in pits five feet deep, trunk end down, while the cars that are placed to form the arches have been welded in place. All are covered with gray spray paint. The heel stone is depicted a 1962 caddy.
Friends of Carhenge (Friends) began in 1988 as a crusade to save the popular tourist attraction from the wrecking ball when the sheriff’s department was called to a property north of Alliance because “someone” was planting cars in a field there.
Soon the city council got involved as it was within the jurisdictional boundary of the city and ordered the car art torn down. Councilman Paul Phaneuf was instrumental in the fight to keep Carhenge alive. In September 1989, the Friends of Carhenge began the preservation project for what is now known worldwide as Carhenge.
Reinders donated the 10 acres of land where Carhenge is located to Friends of Carhenge in 1994, who now owns and maintains it. They have added a paved parking lot, picnic tables, an educational display board, and a gift shop. Additional sculptures have been erected at the site, known as the car art reserve. One of the first sculptures to be added to the car art reserve is a sculpture of a spawning salmon. Since then many other sculptures have been added including Reinders’ “Fourd seasons,” “Dino, the Carnastoga,” as well as many other smaller sculptures make up the car art preserve.
The attraction’s uniqueness, novelty and unusual components continue to draw the attention of film and television production crews. Enthusiasts estimate Carhenge to attract 80,000 tourists from all over the world.
--Courtesy KCOW Radio
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