Split decision gives go-ahead for Roachdale town mural

Monday, May 15, 2017
The former TDS Telecom building, donated to the town of Roachdale in August of last year, sits ready for the paint job approved at the town’s recent public session. The mural project was approved to be painted and displayed on the building’s south side (at left).
Banner Graphic/NICK WILSON

ROACHDALE -- When the former TDS Telecom offices were donated to the town of Roachdale last August, initial plans were made to transform the inside of the building into town offices and a community center capable of hosting larger events than the aging Northside Meeting House.

With those interior plans still in the works, others are now taking it upon themselves to spruce up the outside of the building as well.

United Way of Putnam County Executive Director Joe Buser proposed an idea to the Roachdale town board last week, receiving 2-1 approval for a mural to be applied to the building’s south side.

“In trying to meet all of the town council’s concerns, I applied for a grant through the Putnam County Visitors Bureau (PCVB),” Buser said. “They have an Asset Development grant available (for which) we were approved for $3,650. That includes all of the paint, supplies, scaffolding and lifts with artist and volunteer hours (funded) separately -- we’ll be seeking contributions for that.

“North Putnam art teacher Holly Cooper and her husband Drew, who are both artists, will design the mural and then work with honor (art) students to assist in doing the work,” Buser continued. “If approved, adults would be doing the high work with students doing the lower parts so they won’t have to be up climbing.”

The Roachdale Revitalization Cooperative Alliance, for which Buser serves as president, has declared that it is willing to provide insurance for the project.

Furthermore, North Putnam High School Principal Jason Chew and North Putnam Middle School Principal Scott Miller have also expressed their support for the project through letters of recommendations to the board.

The stucco-covered wall on building’s exterior, Buser said, is conducive to paint and should be a fitting material for such a large mural.

“We don’t have the design yet, but we want the mural to be a tourist attraction for the town,” Buser explained, “something with French stylings that deal with lots of depth and definition. (Cooper) and her husband would like to include some sort of firefighting theme into it, too. And from the work I’ve seen them do, it will be a real masterpiece.

“The idea of this is to help beautify the town and to show its progress and all of the community pride and great things that are going on in Roachdale.”

The project will also be publicized in many ways.

Through the use of social and local media, those interested will be able to watch the artists’ progress through the use of a live feed. There will also be a section of the mural by which visitors can take selfies and family photos in hopes to attract more tourists and sightseers.

The project, which comes with a $10,450 price tag, has received unanimous approval from the board of directors of the Tourism Asset Development Matching Grant program (TADMG) which, despite its name, is not a “matching” grant in that it provides funds to qualified projects without requiring matching contributions from project officials.

Though the project received approval from TADMG, grant totals had not yet been determined at the time of Roachdale’s public session, citing necessary approval from the town board before proceeding to grant totals.

“We will work with the artists and volunteer hours are ‘in kind’ (with the grant) -- that’s for all of the students and any other help or people who come in,” Buser said. “The artists and their $2,000 fee will be raised separately in order to cover her fee.”

Buser made clear that he was not asking for any money from the town to accomplish the project. With $3,650 coming from the PCVB, the remaining $6,800 is expected to be provided (in part) by the TADMG and upcoming fundraising efforts by Buser and others involved.

Board President Zach Bowers, who gave the lone dissenting vote, showed concern before the official motion to approve, specifically with the idea that the mural may slightly wrap around to the front of the building.

“That may, from what I can tell from some preliminary conversations that (Clerk-treasurer Debbie Sillery) has had, the front and the doors may change,” Bowers said.

Other concerns expressed by the board president include the lack of a specific design or basic design plan; next-to-no community input; no plan in place for long-term maintenance; depicting only one of several emergency services in the area; no formal evaluation of the building (other than that performed by a high-school art teacher) to ensure the building is ready for such a mural; possible legal issues behind the use of a live feed; and liability insurance.

Buser is hopeful to begin work on the project by mid-June with completion by the end of the summer.

For more information about the project, persons may contact the RRCA via email at roachdalerca@yahoo.com.

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