City to team up with North Pinellas arts group to paint crosswalk on Central Park Drive
LARGO – When city leaders discussed a public art program that would subsidize murals and wraps on traffic-control boxes earlier this year, they had one concern that derailed it. They didn’t want Largo taxpayers to foot the bill.
That won’t be a problem for a new project to paint a pedestrian crosswalk because the North Pinellas Cultural Alliance has agreed to pay an artist $2,000, which is why city commissioners agreed Aug. 1 to move forward with the proposal.
“It’s a pretty good project,” said Commissioner Jamie Robinson, who represents the city on the nonprofit’s board. “I know this commission have been interested in doing some sort of different art installations. I think this might be a good way to start without having to use any funding from the city.”
Robinson recommended the crosswalk on Central Park Drive between the Performing Arts Center and the library.
In 2016, the city paid $4,000 to become a member of the organization whose mission is to promote the arts in Pinellas County north of Ulmerton Road, which includes Clearwater, Dunedin, Palm Harbor, Safety Harbor, Oldsmar and Tarpon Springs. Since then, several commissioners have been critical of the payment, wondering what the money was being spent on.
Over the past year, Assistant City Manager Michael Staffopoulos said the group has focused on putting programs in place to install artwork and support the arts, which includes recently releasing an 11-step process to help municipalities create decorative pedestrian crosswalks.
“I’d like to see something come back to Largo from the investment we made,” Commissioner John Carroll said.
Staffopoulos said the city would pick the crosswalk and the alliance would do the call for artists and ultimately present the concept. It would then come back to the city before the artist paints, which answered a question of Mayor Woody Brown.
“I don’t want to necessarily have to tell an artist what to paint,” he said. “… And I don’t expect we would get something that’s distasteful or anything, but people that walk across there are going to think that it’s painted by the city of Largo because it’s right in the middle of our huge park.”
Brown and Commissioner Curtis Holmes recommended seeking input from library officials and the Suncoast Performing Arts Foundation, which raises funds to support the Performing Arts Center.
What’s the downside?
Wary of something that comes free, Holmes asked what the downside was to painting the crosswalk.
Staffopoulos said the alliance required that the city pressure wash the roadway, but the biggest concern was that the road would have to be closed while the artist works, which could be several days.
“So, when we have emergency vehicles that are going down to Public Works to fuel up, they would have to swing around, go down Seminole to Eighth Avenue Southwest and ditto coming back or going to Ulmerton Road?” Holmes asked.
Staffopoulos said that was correct, but Robinson added that a similar-sized crosswalk recently completed in Safety Harbor only took one day.