NEW PORT RICHEY — After Richard Melton threatened to resign his position as chairman of the Cultural Affairs Committee, the New Port Richey City Council on Sept. 6 approved the design for a mural on Jefferson Street.
The Main Street Flood Mart Mural would depict a colorful sunburst with the words “It’s a Sunny Day!” The Design Committee of the New Port Richey Main Street organization has accepted the mural design and it was up to the city to approve funding of $3,000 for the installation.
The only issue was that Deputy Mayor Mike Peters did not like the wording and he wanted to discuss its removal.
“I’m just a little bit cautious about the verbiage on there,” Peters said. “I would be more inclined to be a supporter of this if maybe the wording wasn't on there. We don’t have any wording on our other murals and that would leave a more artistic interpretation and design.”
Peters told the Suncoast News he didn’t have an objection to the artwork itself, but he was concerned about setting a precedent.
“I would have preferred it not to have any lettering to be on there so it doesn’t lead to future murals having different message points and leaving interpretation for whoever looks at it,” he said.
Council member Peter Altman offered to amend his motion by suggesting minimizing the size of the font in the mural, or to kick it back and get some other recommendation.
Council member Kelly Mothershead added, “I like all the colors in it. I think something that’s that bright and colorful would make people smile when they walk by, and that’s not a bad thing. I can see why you’d want the wording a bit smaller, but I like the mural.”
Mayor Rob Marlowe agreed with Mothershead and said that he thinks the mural looks nice.
“The Cultural Affairs Chair and our committee has made huge strides to make this happen,” Melton said. “In the amount of time that it has taken to get it this far to be kicked down the road again, if it gets kicked down the road again, I’m telling you right now, you will have my resignation today.”
After a brief discussion whether the verbiage stays but is minimized, Melton said that would only further postpone the project and was not happy about it. He again was prepared to submit his resignation, resulting in the City Council moving to approve the mural as is.
In other news
The council agreed to use Stroud Engineering Consultants Inc. for engineering services for the proposed North River Road improvements.
City Manager Debbie Manns said the city was originally planning to work with Wannemacher Jensen Architects, but it was cost prohibitive to the city. Instead, the city found an engineer who could perform work for the city within its budget for $167,580.
The improvement project would involve the removal and replacement of the existing sidewalk on the east side of North River Road, in addition to hardscape, landscape, roadway striping and the installation of an LED crosswalk system for pedestrian crossings, traffic lane narrowing, bike lane symbols, and straightening of the intersections at North River Road and Veterans Drive, and Legion Place and Veterans Drive.