Future mural site

The side of the building in the left of the photo will be the future site of a mural project. Monday, city officials began taking steps to have an approval process in place for future projects.

With building murals becoming popular, and one project getting underway in a few months, city officials want to ensure they stay artistic and not offensive.

The Napoleon Municipal Properties, Buildings, Land Use and Economic Development Committee discussed the issue this week.

“There’s been a lot of talk of murals being put on the buildings and exterior walls, specifically in downtown,” said City Manager Joel Mazur.

He added the city doesn’t have a code aimed specifically for murals. Mazur said the sign code addresses advertising, but that would be the closest code. He also said he believed the municipal properties committee would be the best committee to address the issue, but wanted to make sure.

Mazur said he believes the city should have something in its code in the event someone should put something offensive on the side of the building. That way, the city can address the problem.

Jerry Tonjes, who owns a building downtown and is in the process of bringing an artist to town to paint a mural on the side of the structure, stressed he hoped officials do not put undue regulations on such projects.

“I’m looking at the history, it can start this small and then all of a sudden we’re throwing all these rules out there,” Tonjes said.

He added he has received a $5,000 grant from the state for his project, but that if the city makes it too difficult to move forward, he will send the money back and forget the project.

Committee member Lori Siclair pointed out that while Tonjes is trying to improve the community, there is the possibility not everyone would have that in mind.

None of the committee members said they expected any problems with Tonjes’ proposed mural, but added they felt the city should have some review mechanism in the future.

Likely the mural proposal would have to come before the committee, which then would recommend the design to council or not.

“I don’t think the purpose of this committee or council would be to get into the artistic design, but I think it would be to make sure it’s not offensive and not an advertisement,” Mazur said.

Tonjes said he also may be able to work on a couple of future mural projects as the state arts council expressed interest in funding other projects.

Email comments to briank@northwestsignal.net

I started at the Northwest Signal in 1994 and became editor in 2004. I graduated from Bowling Green State University in 1994.

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