Picture perfect park

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The Friends of Westgate Park (FOWP) have received a grant to help bring a little color into a section of Westgate Park.

The organization, a non-profit group made up of volunteers and formed by Westgate residents, works in cooperation with Columbus Recreation and Parks and the Westgate Recreation Center. They help to create a better park through activities such as plantings and cleanups, as well as dealing with maintenance issues in the outside area of the park.

The FOWP applied for and were granted a $7,000 Neighborhood Partnership Grant from the Columbus Foundation and United Way of Central Ohio to help fund a mural on the east face of the racquetball courts.

“We’re blown away by it,” said FOWP President Lisa Grazier.

“The first thing you see when you pull into the parking lots at Westgate is that big blank wall. It just begs for something,” said Sue Laughlin, FOWP vice president.

Laughlin added that the wall currently sports splashes of color in some areas, but they serve not as art, but as a way to cover up graffiti.

The group is not worried, however, that the wall may still fall victim to graffiti artists once the mural is in place.

“From what we’ve been told, the mural will act as a deterrent. It’s something about artists respecting other artists,” said Laughlin.

“The blank wall is a lot more inviting to graffiti,” she added.

The wall, which measures 20 feet by 60 feet, will be covered in a historical Camp Chase themed mural.

“It’s the theme that we all agreed on,” said Joe Decker, FOWP treasurer and grant procurement officer.

The FOWP has been in talks with a Columbus artist, Curtis Goldstein, to take on the project.

Goldstein has created several large murals on buildings around Ohio, according to Laughlin.

“We were just really taken with his work and he’s very excited about it,” she said.

The artist and his design, however, are not set in stone.

Before the final decisions are made and contracts are signed, the group must first secure the remainder of funds needed for the project.

Goldstein estimates that the total cost of the project will be close to $15,000, which leaves the group in need of $8,000.

“The grant is not enough to fund the whole project but it’s a major start,” said Grazier.

The largest expense, according to Decker, is the scissors lift that will be required by Goldstein to reach the higher portions of the wall.

“That’s probably going to cost around $2,000,” said Decker.

The group is hoping that a person or business in the area will donate the use of a machine for the project.

“We’re looking for donations, both monetary and in-kind,” he said.

As a condition of the grant, the mural and its design must be agreed upon not only by FOWP, but also by the community. The group will be holding several public meetings, with Goldstein in attendance, for community members to view and comment on the design for the wall. These meeting dates have not yet been announced.

The group also hopes to have the design completed in time to display it at this year’s Bean Dinner, scheduled for June 28.

“The worst case scenario would be someone walks by and says, ‘What’s that? Why didn’t I know about that?’” said Decker.

The Columbus Foundation and the United Way of Central Ohio received 169 requests for Neighborhood Partnership Grants. Of those requests, 51 groups were awarded grants totaling $289,750.

“I’m not sure how they decided who got what,” said Decker, “I think they just looked to spread the wealth as far as they can.”

Anyone interested in contributing to the project should contact Joe Decker at 351-5010 or seppdecker@gmail.com.

Once the project has begun, Decker estimates that it will take approximately two months to complete.

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