A mural project planned for the sides of the South King Street bridge will have to wait until the New Year for a Town Council vote.
The council held off on approving the latest mural project put forward by the Commission on Public Art at its final December meeting.
COPA issued a call to artists earlier in the year for a historically themed mural to be displayed on both sides of the King Street bridge over Town Branch. An art advisory panel was convened to review the submissions, and narrowed down the list to two submissions, one from Jill Perla and another from Kaeley Boyle. COPA ultimately chose Boyle’s submission, which depicts a train theme in a nod to the W&OD Railroad that formerly ran through the site. The mural art installation is being funded by the nonprofit Friends of Leesburg Public Art.
Approving the final design was on the council’s Dec. 12 consent agenda, but was removed for further discussion. Resurrecting a point made earlier in the year, when the council was asked to endorse a mural project at the Liberty Street parking lot, several council members expressed frustration that they were asked for approval late in the process, without a work session or further discussion.
“I think public art needs to be discussed publicly,” Vice Mayor Suzanne Fox said. “I wish we had a different process for this.”
Council members Tom Dunn and Ron Campbell also were concerned about the process, not with the submitted artwork itself. Dunn, however, said he wouldn’t mind seeing the bridge remain untouched.
“I also feel that architecture in itself is a form of art,” Dunn said. “To cover that up with some other art that is open to different opinions. … I would rather see it stay in its pure form.”
Mayor Kelly Burk supported an initial motion to accept the mural design.
“I think this is a fantastic idea,” she said. “It ties in with the region, the history of the trail. It’s a great opportunity to bring forward additional murals that reflect what Leesburg is about.”
Ultimately, Councilman Marty Martinez withdrew his motion to accept the mural design, instead finding support for a motion to move discussion of the mural design to January. Dunn was the lone dissenter on that motion.