The partially painted pollinator pathway mural twas the topic of conversation in Wednesday’s Selectmen meeting.
Mural artist Nelson Rivas of Newburgh, NY designed the mural for the 100 ft long wall and had begun painting it in May when a stop work order was issued.
Members of the RTM pointed the gift of the mural required approval from that body.
At Wednesday’s Selectmen meeting, Environmental Affairs director Pat Sesto asked for the board’s endorsement of the mural, which is an outgrowth of the Pollinator Pathways team, a subcommittee of the Conservation Commission.
“Our pollinators are in serious decline,” Sesto said, adding that education is a major responsibility of the Conservation Commission.
“Even locally, how our eco system works is entirely dependent on pollinators. You’d be astounded how many species are in our back yards, in our woodlands, alongside of our roads, and depend on pollinators to reproduce.”
In Greenwich about 26% of land cover type is considered turf (grasses of various sorts).
Another 31% is considered developed (impervious surfaces, parking lots buildings, etc).
As a result, 57% of Greenwich’s land does not support pollinators.
Sesto said it was critical to share a vibrant message about the value of pathways. “Art is an essential way to communicate,” she said.
The mural is on a previously blank concrete wall opposite Cardinal stadium on Rte 1. It is a well traveled part of the community with ties to Greenwich High School.
There will be posters about the project available at the bus stop near the wall, and the bus shelter also gives opportunity for QR codes.
The muralist is open to working with GHS students to teach them how does one paint a mural, so there is now an educational component to the project.
“Public art, secondary of the message, is a vibrancy within the community. It gives us a sense of place,” Sesto continued.
The VisitCT website lists towns lists towns with murals as destinations.
The subcommittee circulated a petition supporting the mural that was signed by more than 500 people.
Lauren Rabin said it had not been necessary for the Selectmen to endorse the mural, but they were happy to.
The mural will go to the RTM for their approval as a gift.
In partnership with the Greenwich Botanical Center, and through the use of the Sustainable Grant Sources, who provide matching grants, they will put in $7,500, and the community will match that.
In total the mural is a $25,000 project. The mural is $13,750 and the money was raised through crow sourcing, with over 65 donors. They raised all that was needed to get to the $25,000.
The town’s structure does not allow the group to crowd raise as a way of fundraising. Another 501(c)3 has to be in the lead on a SustainableCT grant.
Camillo said the mural was a great message and “a nice look for the area.”
As for the process, he said it was the right thing to do to go before the RTM and noted the mural was not political.
“Going forward, any type of art going up should be looked at by P&Z and the RTM, but this one here is a plus, not just for the neighborhood, but for the town,” he said.
There was discussion of the “vandalism” of the mural after the stop work order was issued.
Alexandra Moch said “vandalism” wasn’t the right word.
“People were looking at this sad, unfinished mural and we saw a girl come from Greenwich Academy with her painting supplies. She said, ‘We heard that you ran out of money and we’re here to help.'”
“We wanted to support her, but we had the stop work order form the town,” Moch said.
Ms Sesto said the mural surface would be treated with an anti-graffiti material.
“I think this is going to be a big time selfie wall,” Sesto said.