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Negative Feedback On Downtown Mural Idea: Morton

The south side of the Rupp Furniture building in the 200 block of North Defiance Street. Village council has discussed painting a mural on the blank white canvas since preparations began for the Sesquicentennial celebration in 2016, after the Red Cross Drug Store was torn down in 2015.– photo by David Pugh

The south side of the Rupp Furniture building in the 200 block of North Defiance Street. Village council has discussed painting a mural on the blank white canvas since preparations began for the Sesquicentennial celebration in 2016, after the Red Cross Drug Store was torn down in 2015.– photo by David Pugh

A mural on a blank downtown wall could easily alienate people, Kevin Morton, Archbold village councilman, said during the Monday, Aug. 19, council meeting.

The council buildings and grounds committee recommended spending $5,000 with Project Allure, a start-up company based at Northwest State Community College, to conduct interviews with 30 people to determine if there is interest in a mural.

Space for a mural became available after 2015, when the Red Cross Drug Store building was torn down, exposing the three-story tall blank wall of the Rupp Furniture building.

The original mural project fell apart when the artist village officials wanted, Eric Grohe of Washington State, retired.

Families

When council began discussing whether to go forward with the $5,000 expenditure, Morton said he spoke with as many people as he could about the project.

Early in the project, the mural was supposed to center on Archbold history, “including families and different things.

“If you had an issue with that family, you’re not in favor of it,” he said.

“Through my conversations, I had negative feedback as far as the potential of it being something that everyone would like.

“The overwhelming comments I had were, ‘Why don’t you put some fantastic landscaping in there, and maybe some benches or a picnic area or something like that, and create a lot of green space growing up along that wall with some tall trees and things like that.’”

“What if the mural was (of) green space, and it looks like green space, with a babbling brook,” said Donna Dettling, village administrator.

“And pair it with natural green space,” said Vaughn Bentz, a councilman.

Originally, Morton said the mural was being prepared in connection with the 2016 village Sesquicentennial celebration.

People thought the mural would be a part of that, and it would draw people from out of town to see it.

“I don’t think now, as I look at that wall, that I see this as something that would be a draw,” Morton said.

“It needs to be something that enhances the downtown in a way that local people can appreciate it.

“Because it’s not likely going to attract” people to the village.

Bentz said the mural “can draw people from Sauder Village. They hear there’s a mural worth driving downtown (to see)… which is the goal.”

Dettling said the proposed 30 interviews by Project Allure would not answer Morton’s concerns.

She suggested the company be directed to think about what adding a mural to a green space “might look like up there and give us some renderings to see if that is indeed the direction we want to go. It’s a little bit more neutral.”

Brad Short, a councilman, said his idea would be “to create an area where people may want to go, sit down… possibly a fountain, or do some hardscapes in that area where there’s a fountain, a place where people could gather.”

Proceed

The idea of scratching the mural project altogether was discussed.

“As it’s been that basiclooking for a number of years now, is it something we should be spending money on?” Morton asked.

Of the 15 people he talked to, he said, “I did not have one person say, ‘Yeah, fantastic.’ It all came with questions.

“We’re spending everyone’s money.”

Laurie Storrer, clerk of council, suggested putting a question about the mural on the village website.

“Open it to the public,” she said. “Those who want to have a voice in it can have a voice in it. I’m not saying we shouldn’t do the interviews.”

“That’s what we’re after at the end of the day, is, what’s the public sentiment? If there’s not a lot of strong sentiment to do a mural, there’s not a lot of reason to keep carrying it,” Dettling said.

Three Readings

Jeff Fryman, mayor, suggested council follow the procedure whereby the resolution to spend $5,000 on interviews for the mural project must be read at three separate meetings before be ing voted on by council.

That, he said, would give time for additional feedback.

“And then, maybe in six weeks, we have a little better idea of what the commu nity says on this,” Fryman said.

Fryman did have a suggestion of what not to include in a mural.

“As long as you don’t paint a train,” he said.