(Posted June 26, 2023)
By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor
A new visual treat and mini oasis awaits users of the Ohio To Erie bike trail that runs through London.
Along the Roberts Pass section of the trail, just east of Maple Street and near M&M Diner, a 16-panel mural series now adorns the side of a building that faces the trail. The murals serve as a visual history of London and the Madison County area, as well as a striking welcome to trail users coming into London from the east.
“The purpose was to create a welcome to London like we have on the west side of town where we have the LONDON bike iron, shelter house, and campgrounds,” said Dr. Gregg Alexander, a member of the Friends of Madison County Parks & Trails (FMCPT), the non-profit group that helps to maintain and enhance the bike trail. “The murals are our greeting for those coming in from the east, the Columbus side.”
The idea to create a mural series was born roughly 17 years ago when MATCO Services relocated to property on Maple Street that borders the bike trail. As neighbors, MATCO and FMCPT leaders forged a bond, and they saw the potential to transform a 100-year-old building on MATCO’s property into something unique.
“To see it finally come to fruition with all the hard work of a core committee and then others who were brought in to help and assist, it was just incredible,” said Van Viney, MATCO Services CEO.
The “Community Mural Project” is aptly named as many volunteers, businesses, and organizations leant a hand to make it happen.
“A lot of people have donated a little here and there–financial support, time, and resources. It all adds up,” Alexander said.
Each panel pays tribute to a different facet of London and Madison County’s storyline, from a wooly mammoth representing pre-historic times to depictions of local schools and businesses. There are panels dedicated to farming, downtown London, Native Americans, pioneer Jonathan Alder, and Abraham Lincoln’s visit on the way to his inauguration. The array is eye-catching.
The artist behind the images is Clay Hurley, a recent London High School graduate with a talent for digital imagery. FMCPT had Hurley’s images enlarged then transferred onto vinyl. The vinyl panels were adhered to the 16 nooks in the MATCO building and coated to protect against graffiti and ultraviolet light.
Brass plaques accompany each panel, providing information about the images. A welcome sign is affixed at one end of the series; a thank-you sign is displayed at the other end.
And that’s not all. Benches, landscaping featuring native plants, and a path that allows a closeup look of the artwork make for a park-like setting between the murals and the bike trail.
Additionally, a new walking path extends from MATCO’s main building to the mural building where it connects with the path in the mini-park. MATCO’s associates, some of whom have mobility challenges, now have easy access to the bike trail.
“What a tremendous plus it has turned out to be,” said Viney, adding that MATCO has purchased adaptive bikes for associates to use on the bike trail.
This year marks MATCO’s 50th anniversary. Viney is thrilled that completion of the mural project coincides with this milestone.
“What a present to receive from the community that we’ve been a part of for so long, and it’s something we ourselves worked on,” he said.
A ribbon cutting ceremony for the Community Mural Project is set for 11 a.m. June 30 at MATCO Services, 204 Maple St., London. The public is invited to attend. Refreshments will be served.