Medina approves moratorium on public art proposals for 60 days

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 25 August 2020 at 2:38 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers: This mural in Medina’s Canal Basin depicts a man and mule on the Erie Canal. The mural was painted by Ben Northern and  installed about 20 years ago.

MEDINA – The Village Board approved a 60-day moratorium on any public art projects in the historic district. This will give the village time to update its ordinance for public art and perhaps create a new Public Arts Commission.

The moratorium was approved on Monday, following a public hearing at the Senior Center, where the Village Board will now be holding its public meetings.

Arthur Barnes created this mural of a mule-drawn packet boat that is displayed in the Canal Basin.

The moratorium doesn’t include three murals that were approved last week by the Village Planning Board. Those large paintings will be buildings on Proctor Place.

The Village Board is looking to form a group with representatives from the Village Board, Planning Board and people with expertise in the public art.

They will make a recommendation that will likely accommodate public art while preserving the integrity of the historic structures and character of the downtown.

If there are any changes to the zoning ordinance, there will need to be a public hearing where the community will have a chance to voice their opinion.

Village officials have been pushed to face the issue after the Form Foundation submitted proposals for four murals, with three in the historic district. One of the murals – the “Canalligator” – is already done.

Another one with a floral pattern would be on the other side of the same cinder block building as the Canalligator on Proctor Place. Another project, “Fake It Til You Make It” – will be on the back of 410 Main Street. The mural would go from the floor to the top of the cinder block wall.

The Planning Board approved certificates of appropriateness for the projects after consutlign with the State Historic Preservation office. The Planning Board on Aug. 18 approved the murals, saying the current code is vague.

SHPO also advised the board that the murals with modern art are compatible in historic district as long as they aren’t painted on main thoroughfares, aren’t painted on historic stone or on prominent architectural features.

The current regulations in the historic district are focused on the front facades of buildings and the historic architectural features – not the backs of buildings and cinder blocks.

“I think it’s time for the village to come into the 21st Century with modern art,” Medina Mayor Mike Sidari said at a meeting earlier this month. “I think there is a place for it and a place not for it.”

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