Moorhead council hesitant to fund sidewalk art
Supporters of sidewalk art here were dealt a blow when the City Council decided Monday to delay a vote on the project because of an unwillingness to use public funds to pay for 100 percent of the project.
MOORHEAD-Supporters of sidewalk art here were dealt a blow when the City Council decided Monday to delay a vote on the project because of an unwillingness to use public funds to pay for 100 percent of the project.
Council member Heidi Durand led the charge to sway the council to vote in favor of a resolution that would pave the way for imprinting 80 to 96 slabs of concrete with poetry and art, but the council did not support using an estimated $14,000 in taxpayer dollars to fund the project.
The art and poetry would be part of a project already slated to begin in May that would include new sidewalks along Main and Center avenues and possibly Eighth Street. The project was inspired by a similar project in St. Paul called "Everyday Poems for City Sidewalk."
Council members Brenda Elmer, Nancy Otto, Marie Dailey and Steve Gehrtz were vocal about their support of the project, on the condition it is in part or wholly funded privately or with grants.
Project supporters were disappointed, but not surprised, by the council's inaction. They said grant funding isn't an option because of the timing of the project.
The project has been in the works for about one year and was initiated by city staff. Some council members said they were not informed about the project until recently.
A mayor's advisory board formed to spearhead the project will have two weeks to come up with private funding; otherwise, the project is in jeopardy.
Mara Morken, a member of the mayor's art advisory group, said raising the funds is possible, but it will be difficult given the time frame.
Art Advisory Group member Su Legatt said the art would enhance Moorhead's downtown and would bring businesses and people to the city. Durand agreed and said it is a worthwhile investment of taxpayer dollars.
"I believe that Moorhead is on the cusp of a cultural and arts renaissance, and the economy will follow that," Legatt said.
The council was also concerned about getting the power of final approval for the art. Councilman Mike Hulett said he supports the project but wants the city to ensure nothing on the sidewalks is offensive. He wants to give residents and business owners a way to see the art before it's installed.
The council is expected to discuss the issue again on April 27.