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The issue of whether eight Airstream trailers buried nose first in a Florida field constitutes art or roadside clutter continues to drag on in a Florida circuit court, and that’s just fine with Frank Bates, owner of Bates RV in Dover, Fla., who planted the Airstreams there in the first place.
“As long as it sits there, people accept it a lot more,” said Bates. “I met two people on a cruise ship in Australia who knew about it.”
Spurred on by some neighborhood residents, the Hillsborough County Code Enforcement Board in March told Bates to remove the trailers that he calls an “open-air sculpture” commemorating Airstream’s 75th anniversary in 2007. The board ruled that the seven full-size Airstream trailers and a smaller Airstream Bambi are abandoned vehicles, not art.
There is no date for a ruling, although Bates said the judge has postponed a decision once. And should the ruling go against him, Bates is intent on taking the matter to the Florida Supreme Court and, if necessary, the U.S. Supreme Court, if necessary.
“I made a package deal with my attorney to take it all the way,” Bates said. “He’s doing it for fun, almost.”
Others also are having “fun” with the “Airstream garden near the dealership.
An Orlando rock band used the Airstreams as a backdrop for a music video, and three teens were arrested during the summer for spraying graffiti on the trailers.
“They were three guys who wanted to be in a gang,” Bates said. “The district attorney wanted to go after them, but there were very apologetic and one of them turned out to be an Eagle Scout. They apologized to the sales staff and paid $1,700 to have the graffiti cleaned off.”
The trio also agreed to public service for one day a week for six months, Bates said.