Ormond Mainstreet wants to complete at least three murals in three years.
The walls of downtown Ormond Beach that are often left blank could be filled with color and creativity thanks to a potential mural project from Ormond Mainstreet and the Ormond Beach Arts District.
Executive Director Julia Truilo presented the idea to the City Commission during a workshop April 18, and the response was unanimously supportive.
“It brings a sense of place for downtown,” Truilo told the commission. “It’s as simple as someone saying ‘Let’s meet in front of the 'blank' before we go have a drink.’ It becomes a location point for the town.”
During her presentation, Truilo cited the different ways murals could help create the walkable downtown that officials continue to push for, and addressed the potential issues that have been brought up in the past regarding public art.
She told commissioners that the murals would be regulated. Only professional artists could submit, and the murals would be limited to one of three themes: Ormond history, local flora and fauna, and the beach. Though the pilot project would be run by Mainstreet and the Ormond Beach Arts District, which is a subsidiary of Mainstreet, a few city commissioners said they’d still like to approve the final design before it’s painted.
“The only concern I have is the ability for Mainstreet to enforce the rules if they’re not maintaining the mural,” Commissioner Rick Boehm said. “You're more limited then we are in your ability to ensure that something is maintained. If we do approve it, you would be more protected.”
"I do think there should be a final approval,” said Commissioner Dwight Selby. “And I say that because one, we’re responsible for the city and two, it provides a public forum for people who are for or against this idea to speak."
Commissioner Troy Kent and Mayor Bill Partington agreed, though all five commissioners were clear that they by no means wanted to regulate the content of the mural.
“Before this we had a commissions who tore down a mural. There was a whole petition to save the parrot on the Quality Inn, and now we’re talking about this. It’s funny what 20 years can do.”
— City Commissioner Troy Kent
“I’m fine with it as long as we can pass the legality that is not a sign, and that the city government cannot determine the content,” said Commissioner Rob Littleton.
Making sure a mural does not become a sign advertising for the business it’s painted on was also a concern. Truilo assured commissioners that there would be a determined percentage of how much wording would be allowed on the mural to prevent it from becoming a sign.
Though Mainstreet originally proposed to create three murals in three years within the River District of downtown, Boehm suggested that they don’t limit themselves.
“I think you should extend it to the entire downtown overlay,” he said, “and you should be able to reach the three murals in whatever time frame. I’d say do three in the downtown overlay, and when you reach the three, we can see how many more we can do.”
As for sponsorship, Truilo said she’s already spoken with several local businesses that would like to sponsor a mural on their buildings. Boehm suggested that the city should sponsor a mural themselves on the concrete wall of the public bathroom in Cassen Park.
“That wall that faces the river, if you painted that you could say ‘Welcome to Ormond Beach,’” he said. “It would be a first impression of our city, especially if you have the floating dock. I just think it's a wonderful location and this is coming at a time when we’re designing and repainting that bathroom. You could leave it the way it is or you can try to do something creative with it.”