The City of Crookston is the "fiscal agent" in a grant application submitted by Crookston High School art teacher Gary Stegman last week that seeks Legacy Amendment funding of up to $10,000 for a mural project he has in mind for the north wall of the JJ's Bodyshop building downtown. The wall has been exposed and sort of an eyesore since the former Palace/Wayne Hotel building was demolished at the corner of Second Street and North Main in 2011.
The Crookston City Council's Ways & Means Committee approved Stegman's request that the city serve as the necessary fiscal agent in the application. The city would also need to provide $1,000 in matching funds, City Administrator Tony Chladek said.
Stegman told the Times that he expects to hear word on the fate of the grant application by the end of this month. Even if funding is approved, he stressed that the mural concept he has come up with is not necessarily the final version, and that "a lot needs to happen before this work can happen."
Some council members, while approving the fiscal agent request in order to meet the grant application deadline, expressed hope that they’d be able to discuss the mural project again before anything is official.
Chladek and Stegman have discussed the project, but Stegman has yet to sit down with JJ's Bodyshop owner Jodi Dragseth, who has seen his mural concept but said she's "kind of been out of the loop" so far on the project. She told the Times she anticipates talking with Stegman very soon about his mural idea.
Stegman's project at this stage involves tiles and potentially some type of false wall to support them. The actual image is of the lobby of the historic Palace Hotel, and above the image are the words, in all capital letters:
"History defines our future and our community.
Some have visited. Some have left.
Some have stayed and left a mark.
History is not a place or an event;
It is people making a difference. What mark will you leave?"
Everyone involved agrees that the brick wall itself needs work before any potential mural project can proceed. It needs some tuck-pointing, Dragseth said, adding that since the building was demolished the energy efficiency of her building has decreased. Chladek said he suggested that Dragseth get some bids on the necessary wall improvements, and then "come and sit down with the city" to discuss the potential for the city to help her with some of the costs.
Page 2 of 2 - Dragseth said she welcomes the potential assistance.
"We need to sit down and find out what my role is exactly," she said. "The way I look at it, I didn't tear down the building and now my wall is exposed. Am I in charge of funding the repairs? That's what we need to find out."
As for Stegman's mural, Dragseth said she thinks it's "neat" and that it looks good in the pictures she's seen. "The image itself is cool," she said, adding that she's looking forward to sitting down with Stegman to discuss the project and provide him more detailed feedback.
The council, in recent long-term prioritizing sessions, has identified improvements at the corner where the building was demolished as a top priority, and has set aside some funding for parking and other enhancements in the space.