GetAbout Columbia extends mural design deadline

Wednesday, May 26, 2010 | 6:05 p.m. CDT; updated 9:49 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, May 26, 2010

COLUMBIA — GetAbout Columbia extended Wednesday the deadline for its mural design contest, in which the winner gets to paint on two city intersections. The original May 30 deadline has been pushed back to June 8.

The contest is part of the Bike Boulevard project in the Benton-Stephens neighborhood. The project's goal is to create a safe route for bikers to follow while riding along and crossing busy streets in the Benton-Stephens area.

Corri Flaker of GetAbout Columbia said she extended the deadline to give people another opportunity to participate. Only one design has been submitted for the contest, she said.

With help from community volunteers, the winner will paint the murals at the intersections of Windsor and Melbourne streets and Ash and St. Joseph streets. Designs can be as large as 30 feet by 25 feet with a theme of "urban agriculture."

Adam Saunders, board president of the Columbia Center for Urban Agriculture, hopes the extension will raise awareness and give community members more time to create designs.

“People don’t want to rush quality work,” he said, “especially on such a large canvas.”

The center has a demonstration garden at the St. Joseph intersection, and the Benton-Stephens Community Garden is at the Windsor intersection.

Saunders said the murals will enhance the look of the neighborhood and slow traffic.

“Aesthetics and safety are the main reasons for these murals,” he said.

Flaker said the Bike Boulevard project has been slowed by the postponed approval of the project from City Council and the wait for warmer weather needed to paint the bike route. The lanes were striped Saturday.

Flaker said the next step of the project is to put up traffic signs so drivers are aware of cyclists on the roadways. Paint sharrows — bike symbols with arrows — are also needed on the pavement to mark the route's path.

While the signs are being installed, Flaker said GetAbout Columbia will meet with Public Works to set up a date to start building a safety island in the middle of College Avenue. The island will prevent traffic from driving through the bike lanes.

“I think the boulevard is an important link from the east side of town to the west side of town,” said Jay Hasheider, vice president of the Benton-Stephens Neighborhood Association. He hopes the island will create a safe route for bikers who were uneasy about traveling those streets.

There is no specific completion date for the Bike Boulevard project. But Flaker estimates it will be completed sometime between June and July, with the mural painting at the end of August.

At the completion of the project, there will be a celebratory parade in which bikers and walkers will travel from one end of the boulevard to the other, Saunders said. GetAbout Columbia, the Benton-Stephens Neighborhood Association and the Columbia Center for Urban Agriculture are hoping to team up with Missouri High Steppers for the event, Saunders said.

Saunders said there will be more details on the parade when Bike Boulevard is closer to completion.

Together, the boulevard and murals will create an area where bikers can enjoy a safe and aesthetically pleasing bike ride.

“But I think it’s more than making it look pretty. It’s about bringing the community together to create something beautiful and common throughout,” Flaker said.

To enter the contest, send two mural designs with an urban agriculture theme to GetAboutColumbia, c/o Corri Flaker, 101 N. Seventh St., Columbia, MO 65201.

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