Downtown's Artification Project Put On Hold
The "artification" of downtown Springfield has met an obstacle. A mural scheduled to be finished this month will have to wait until next year.
The plan was for the mural to depict an old-fashioned advertisement with raspberries and corn, drawing attention to the downtown farmer's market that runs from spring to fall. Downtown Springfield Incorporated, or DSI, is in charge of the project. The group aims to complete up to 8 of the murals highlighting Springfield history and culture by 2015, and the city has thrown in $50,000 in tax increment financing to help. That's despite Mayor Mike Houston questioning if public money should go toward artwork.
Victoria Ringer, head of DSI, says in the "eleventh hour" plans for the second mural were put on hold by the city. Ringer says she was told her group would need to apply for a zoning change because the proposed painting falls under the definition of a "sign." That delay will add more than 2 months to the process: too late to do the outdoor painting. "There's several cities in Illinois: Lincoln, Jacksonville, Pontiac, Danville, Belvidere, Homewood - they've all done these projects and none of them have run up against this," claims Ringer.
Neither did a mural project in Springfield earlier this year, which resulted in a young Abe Lincoln depicted on the side of a bar and restaurant. The mayor's spokesperson says the city is simply following the rules.