The Arizona Capitol’s famed copper dome, much like its finances, has lost its luster.
What was once a shiny beacon of the state’s prosperity and a nod to the historical importance the ore played in its development has become dull and faded. Although chemically treated to prevent tarnishing, the copper is visibly discolored over much of the dome’s surface.
The damage appears to be due to the intense Arizona sun, as much of the blackening of the metal sheeting is concentrated on the south side of the dome, which is subjected to more direct sunlight than the other sides.
An Arizona lawmaker with a penchant for fixing things at the Capitol without spending tax dollars said he wants to find a way to repair the dome.
“I want to see what we can do to make that sucker shine,” said Rep. Jerry Weiers, a Glendale Republican.
Weiers spearheaded an effort in 2005 to repair the towering flagpole that sat in front of the Capitol building and between the Senate and House of Representatives. A powerful storm that July severely bent the pole.
State officials said it would cost $9,000 to replace the 90-foot pole, but Weiers arranged for several local businesses to donate their services to straighten out the pole, calling the proposed purchase of a new pole “a waste.”
Now he has set his sights on fixing the dome, which he saw was lacking its shine during a recent flight when he struggled to spot the Capitol from the plane.
“Have you looked up there recently? It’s disgusting,” he said.
At issue is the state’s appearance, Weiers said.
“It does reflect on our state, even though it’s not reflecting worth crap right now,” he said.
After seeing the damage firsthand Dec. 21, Weiers – who said it was “worse than I thought it would be” – said he plans on seeing if there is a way to get the copper surface shining brightly again. Of course, given the massive deficits facing Arizona, Weiers said that will only happen if there is a way to do so without spending any state money.
He isn’t even certain if there is a way to fix it at no cost.
“I don’t know if I’ll get anything done, but I’ll sure work it,” he said.
Weiers said he hopes any needed repairs are finished by Feb. 14, 2012, when Arizona celebrates its centennial.