A $450,000 proposal to populate Lincoln Park with three sculptures was rejected by the City Council this week as being too expensive, sending city officials back to drawing board.

“I think $450,000 is way too much money,” Mayor Dave Golonski said on Tuesday. He said he'd be more interested in a figure that was half that amount.

Golonski was joined by Councilmen David Gordon and Gary Bric in rejecting the proposed sculpture garden, which would have been paid for by tapping a fund that developers pay into as part of a public art fee for new projects in the city.

A city ordinance requires that all development projects costing more than $500,000 contribute 1% of total project costs to the Public Art Fund, which since its inception in 1992 has generated about $1 million.

The fund — which can only be used to pay for public art projects — paid for the Five Points art monument and three projects along the Chandler Bikeway. Its current balance is $541,266.

When Lincoln Park was built 12 years ago, city officials felt that it would be ideal for a sculpture garden, since it features three alcoves that each would accommodate one of the three pieces.

“The alcoves are empty and ready to be cultivated,” said Julia Chambers, the city's public art consultant. “It'll reflect our highly creative community.”

Councilman Jess Talamantes felt the price was reasonable, noting that when broken down by alcove, the cost would come out to $150,000 each.

“When you start breaking it down like that, it's not out of line, from my perspective,” he said.

For the scope of the project, city officials also felt the budget was fair.

“It could be magical,” Chambers said. “But, again, you have to invest in it and make that wonderful project happen.”

But council members worried that the proposed sculpture garden would wipe out too large a chunk of the Public Art Fund and make it difficult to pay for maintenance or future projects.

“Possible maintenance down the road? We basically shot everything we have,” Bric said. “I'd like to see it toned down.”

An updated proposal will be brought to the council in the coming months for review.

Follow Alene Tchekmedyian on Google+ and on Twitter @atchek.