City Nixes Plan for “Sinking Gas Station” in Anacostia River

Following outrage from community members, plans to install a "sinking" gas station inside the Anacostia River have been canceled.

The scultpure is one part of the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities' latest project called 5x5, which will feature 25 temporary public artworks displayed around D.C. from September to December.

The sculpture's artist, Mia Feuer, had hoped the attention-grabbing image would bring urgency to questions about climate change, rising sea levels and energy source consumption.

"In a city of words, it presents an image demanding an intelligent alternative to cars, gas, and oil, in the center of the nation’s capital," Feuer wrote about the concept.

News spoke with Doug Siglin with United for a Healthy Anacostia, who said the sculpture could do just the opposite -- by possibly encouraging people to pollute the river

"It's in the wrong place," he said. "Let me tell you some things that don't belong in the Anacostia River: toxic chemicals, excrement, oil and gas, trash, tired, cars, refrigerators and art projects."

Charles Allen, the Democratic nominee for D.C. Council's Ward 6, said he agrees with the artist's intent to raise awareness, but stands with Siglin on the wrong message it could send.

"The artist is trying to start a conversation about climate change. What we take issue with is the location. This is a bad choice," Allen said. "There's no way you’re going to see a gas station sunk in the river and not have a negative connotation with that."

Allen and other city leaders wrote a letter to Mayor Vincent Gray Thursday, urging him to relocate the gas station.

"Given the many years of community investment and hard work to clean up and change the negative perception of the Anacostia River, there could hardly be a worse public message than sinking an entire mock gas station in the Anacostia’s waters," they wrote.

The city's arts commission announced Friday it is pulling back from placing the gas station inside the Anacostia.

"After further consultation with the District's Department of the Environment regarding the city’s on-going efforts to clean up the Anacostia River, DCCAH is working to relocate the temporary project outside of the Anacostia River and vicinity," a spokesperson said.

The 5X5 prokect will still go on across D.C. and the gas station will still be a part of it -- though it's not clear where it will be placed.

In a statement to News4 Thursday, the gas station's artist said it wasn't her intention to "create a work that disparages the Anacostia River or her history."

Contact Us