The temporary mural overlaid on the intersection of Aspen Avenue and Leroux Street in Flagstaff has led to calls for more public input on future installations.
As a result, at least one stakeholders group has already been formed.
The “Destination for all Seasons” graphic was unveiled late last month to a cold reception from locals, many of whom said it clashed with other more artistic murals and public art downtown.
Many complained the Convention and Visitors Bureau did not allow for any public input on the installation before it was painted on a popular downtown street.
Now, the city has created a focus group for stakeholders to give input for other installations downtown.
“A focus group discussion was held on October 3 at the Weatherford Hotel with several stakeholders on the subject,” city spokeswoman Jessica Drum said in an email. “We decided, as a group, that the current installation is fine as it is not a permanent mural. We will be putting together a focus group with the Tourism Commission, (Beautification and Public Art Commission), Heritage Preservation Commission, and other key stakeholders in 2018 to discuss projects like this in the future.”
Drum said the CVB, which commissioned the installation, has not heard any further comments from the public about the graphic in recent weeks.
The graphic, which cost $11,000, was paid for by Bed, Board and Beverage (BBB) tax funds and was included in the CVB 2018 fiscal year base advertising budget, CVB spokeswoman Meg Roederer said in an email when the mural was finished.
Individual expenditures do not come before the City Council for specific approval unless they are $50,000 or more.
Drum said the council has not asked to be more involved in approval ofpublic displays like the street graphic, but other stakeholders will have the opportunity to be more involved through the focus group.
Councilman Charlie Odegaard said he had not heard any input about the mural in recent weeks, but he did not feel the approval for the graphic was “run through the proper channels in the first place.” Odegaard said the graphic should have been approved by multiple city commissions before it was installed.
The Tourism Commission did give general approval to the CVB for on-street advertising earlier in the fiscal year.
Odegaard said he does not think the council’s policies should change to require council input for public displays like the street graphic, and involving the council with expenditures less than $50,000 “could get a little too bogged down with decisions like that.”
Vice Mayor Jamie Whelan said she has received two emails asking her to urge the city to paint over the graphic since it was first unveiled.
“I’m not sure the council needed to have input, but I would have loved to see our commissions, especially the ones more involved in beautification and public art, have an opportunity for input. That’s why we have our commissions,” Whelan said.
Councilwoman Celia Barotz said she would be interested in pursuing further discussion about the council’s involvement with public displays like the street graphic.
“In this case, the dollar amount was relatively low,” she said. “But just because it doesn’t meet the procurement threshold doesn’t mean it doesn’t merit a broader discussion.”
Barotz said projects placed in the “public square” should have broader public input, whether at the council or commission level, or both.
“As a council member, I certainly know many residents of Flagstaff care about the Flagstaff vibe and the Flagstaff aesthetic,” she said. “As public officials, it’s our responsibility to make sure they’re included in the conversation.”