MOORHEAD — Motorists along Interstate 94 in Moorhead next year will see a to-be-determined water tower painting highlighting the city, possibly with lighting to make it visible at night.
It's estimated about 43,000 drivers pass through the stretch of the interstate in south Moorhead daily where they can catch a glimpse of the tower near 20th Street that is in need of rehabilitation.
City Council member Heidi Durand, who also serves on the Moorhead Public Service Commission, said they want the tower design to be "catchy" as drivers, especially those passing through, will only have a few seconds to get a glimpse of the work.
Thus, Durand said, it will be different than the other water tower painting designs that are much more detailed, including the tower in Woodlawn Park, which was nominated for a national award, and in Oakport in north Moorhead. A design has also been selected for a new water tower going up farther south in Moorhead near the Village Green Golf Course.
The design themes for those three towers have featured neighborhood attributes and landmarks.
The I-94 project is being called an "identity tower" and is bound to be the gem of the city's towers with such high visibility. The design is expected to be bold and uncluttered with art visible from all angles.
The City Council this past week on an 8-0 vote approved a contract with a newly formed North Dakota family operation for $10,000 to start work on the effort.
Michelle Churchill, of Fargo, who will be designing the final product after input from the community, is working on the effort along with her brother, Andrew Seeburg, an engineer, and her sister, Kelly Churchill, a community involvement marketing specialist. Seeburg and Kelly Churchill live in Bismarck.
Michelle Churchill, who works for Indigo Sigworks, was selected for the project from among 22 artists who submitted proposals, with six finalists interviewed by a committee of City Council and MPS members.
She said the first step in the process will be putting a survey up on the city of Moorhead's website where residents can provide input on the tower design.
"We want the community to help us out a lot," she said in an interview this week.
The design will include "Moorhead" emblazoned on the tower, she said, but the rest of the design is yet to be determined.
Michelle Churchill said the community engagement will continue through July and August, with a presentation of what could be the final design to the city's Art and Culture Commission by mid-September. She hopes to have the City Council approve the design by late September and the MPS Commission by early October.
The painting will likely start in the spring as weather allows.
City communications director Lisa Bode said they are pursuing grant funding, but so far the city is using $10,000 of its public art budget for initial work, while MPS has committed $28,500. The overall budget is expected to be about $50,000 for the work.
Many cities across Minnesota have been doing special artwork on their water towers, including at least two other cities along I-94: St. Cloud and Woodbury. Many other cities across the country also have unique designs and shapes for their water towers.