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City one step closer to mural

It's been nearly a year since Central Beaverton neighbors shared their vision for creating a public mural that reflects the heart of their community with city officials.

With the introduction of a new public art ordinance before the city, neighbors may be able to begin painting their colorful mural later this spring or early this summer on the north wall of Ickabod's Tavern.

The prospect excites Beaverton Sub Station owner Chuck Wilson, who pitched the idea for the Central Beaverton mural to his wife and neighbors after eyeing that blank wall for years from his Old Town business.

'I think we're all looking forward to putting our mural up and having fun with it,' Wilson said following a Monday night City Council work session on the ordinance. 'Hopefully other people and neighborhood associations will get murals going as well.

'Having murals can be a positive for the whole community - they're much better than having just blank walls around town. It will be interesting to see what people come up with.'

Early last year Old Town business leaders, the Central Beaverton Neighborhood Association Committee and artists Gina Wilson and Jeanne Bennett-Schultz began working with city officials to create a new public art ordinance similar to Portland's that would allow them to move forward with their ambitious neighborhood project and pave the way for public murals in Beaverton.

Under the existing Beaverton code, murals fall under a restrictive sign ordinance, requiring the group to apply for a spendy variance.

Seeing the value in public art, Mayor Rob Drake asked the city attorney to create an ordinance that would change the Beaverton City Code and Community Development Code to exempt public art from sign regulations.

The city could then create a formal community mural program led by the Beaverton Arts Commission, with a committee to review proposed murals.

Jayne Scott, executive director of the arts commission, supports the idea. She shared photographed examples of murals in other communities during Monday's council meeting.

'We are delighted and excited about the possibilities,' she said.

In the meantime, plans for Central Beaverton's mural will continue to be put on hold until the new public art ordinance goes before the Planning Commission April 2 and the City Council conducts a public hearing on the proposal later next month.