Troy group exploring mural program on downtown buildings

A downtown Troy support organization is proposing a murals program to emphasize the downtown’s “vibrancy” and increase foot traffic to benefit businesses. TY GREENLEES / STAFF

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A downtown Troy support organization is proposing a murals program to emphasize the downtown’s “vibrancy” and increase foot traffic to benefit businesses. TY GREENLEES / STAFF

TROY – A downtown Troy support organization is proposing a murals program to emphasize the downtown’s “vibrancy” and increase foot traffic to benefit businesses.

A mural program is being developed by a design committee of the nonprofit Troy Main Street downtown advocacy organization.

The concept was shared March 24 with the Troy Planning Commission because the downtown area lies within the city historic district.

The commission supported the idea but would consider each mural proposed individually. Its members also suggested areas of the program the group should explore such as the impact of materials used in the murals on a building’s brick or other surface.

“We are really excited about murals and their ability to add to the vibrancy of our downtown, to highlight certain areas of our downtown that maybe don’t get highlighted as often. We think they are something that will increase our foot traffic, which is always something good for our businesses,” said Andrea Keller, Troy Main Street executive director.

Among ideas is painting murals in areas that are a little more hidden to encourage people to come downtown and explore. Social media would be among ways used to feature what is available. A selfie mural designed to encourage people to take their photo with it also would be explored, Kessler said.

“It is something we think will be beneficial to both visitors and to local citizens. It is something we think we can use as an educational tool” by featuring a piece of local history, she said of a murals project.

The “ghost” murals seen on some building of past advertisements would be explored, possibly bringing some back to life.

The downtown has a couple of murals already including one painted by local artist the late Aka Peremya on the side of the Mayflower building facing the northwest section of the Public Square and another painted by high school students and others on the walls of the Troy Rec Building north Market Street just north of the square.

After the presentation, the Main Street committee will turn to design and funding for the project.

As part of its research, the committee explored several possible mural locations with building owners. A series of photos of potential locations was shown to commission members. Locations on building ranged from near street level to upper building areas. Some building owners said they would possibly be interested in a mural, depending on its content and if it would be acceptable to a neighbor such as a church and some in helping to pay for one, Keller said.

“I think it is great,” commission member Ed Westmeyer said of the concept.

Commission Chairman Alan Kappers asked once a mural is in place, who would be tasked with maintaining it. The committee would need to investigate that question, Keller said.

Larry Wolke, another commission member, questioned if there possibly could be “a content problem” with murals such as political statements.

The content is another reason why the planning commission needs to review each proposal, said Patrick Titterington, city service and safety director, who is a commission member.

“Andrea and I have talked about some general guidelines … No wording, if possible; positive messaging; historic bent, if you will,” he said. “Of course, you are dealing with artists and each one will have their own interpretation.”

Commission member Jim McGarry suggested Troy Main Street involve an architect or other professional who would review processes to be used for painting, sealing and removal of murals to avoid past problems with damage to buildings from use of improper processes or materials.

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