Mural plans hit another roadblock

June 03, 2003|by DAVE McMILLION

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - A controversy over a mural that was to be painted on a building downtown was temporarily put to rest Monday night when the owner of the building said he was withdrawing his permission to allow the image.

Doug Craigo, owner of the building at 124 S. Queen St., said in a letter read to the Historic Preservation Review Commission that he was temporarily rescinding his permission to allow the mural because he is concerned about how it will look when it is finished.

The letter was read to the commission by Martinsburg City Council member Richard Yauger.

Yauger said Craigo had asked him if he would read his letter to the commission.

Craigo said in his letter he is concerned about how the logo will look given the fact he has only seen hand sketches and poor quality computer images of the proposed logo.


The mural, which will depict a local marching band that performed in Martinsburg from 1896 until the 1930s, has drawn mixed opinions.

Local historian Don Wood has said he thinks it is "trashy" while Matthew Grove, an architect who was on the design committee for the mural, thinks it is a rich project that will do a lot for downtown.

Jeff Curtis, director of Main Street Martinsburg, has also supported the mural.

Curtis, who was at Monday's commission meeting, said he was "a little embarrassed and caught off guard" by Craigo's decision, especially since the project has been in the works for about a year.

Curtis said he would try to work with Craigo to alleviate his concerns.

A $15,000 arts grant was to be used to pay for the mural, which was to be painted by Hagerstown artist Bettina Messersmith.

At one point, the mural seemed to be a go.

The Historic Review Commission had voted 4-3 in favor of the project, but city attorney Oakley Seibert later determined that a majority of the commission's members must vote in favor of a project.

Because the commission is comprised of nine members, five would have needed to vote for the project, city officials said.

The mural was up for reconsideration before the commission Monday night.

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