SALEM - Street artists who test their skills on a graffiti wall at Waterworth Memorial Park will have a little more wall space where they can display their creativity.
The city Parks Commission agreed Wednesday to double the size of the graffiti wall located on the west end of the maintenance building by increasing the length from 16 feet to 32 feet.
Parks Director Steve Faber also suggested adding two sections on the east side of the maintenance building which would be viewable from School Street as visitors are pulling into the park, but commission members didn't seem to like that idea. They didn't include it in the motion.
Commission Vice Chairman Terry Hoopes said he likes the positioning of the current wall, adding that the artists do terrific work and he would like to keep the integrity of the park. He said he wasn't keen on the idea of graffiti being the first thing people see when they come into the park.
"As an experiment, I don't think it's wrong to put it on the east side to see how it goes," Faber said.
Hoopes, though, said he felt strongly about his concern of having that be the first thing people see. Commission Chairman John Panezott agreed and said he would rather see the wall stay on the west side. Commission member Lucille Karnofel also agreed.
The wall was put in place a few years ago and Faber said he and parks foreman Jim Grimm had already been talking about expanding it when the topic was raised at a city council Parks Committee meeting, with some people even suggesting walls be placed at Centennial Park, which Faber and commission members did not favor.
Faber said the materials for the expansion are being donated. In response to people saying the artwork isn't viewable in the current location, he said he would prefer to err on the side of the artists who seem to be comfortable there. He said they've had minimal trouble there and it's in a spot where park personnel can monitor its use.
In other business, the commission approved an Eagle Scout project called Project Wallbuilder presented by Salem High School junior Owen Washam, who's a member of Boy Scouts Troop 6 at St. Paul Church. Washam explained that he wants to rebuild the wall at Centennial Park on the Park Avenue side between Pershing Street and Oak Street.
"The wall is kind of collapsed right now," he said.
His plan calls for rebuilding the wall, making it a little shorter and expanding the length and introducing some new native plants to the area. Some stone from an old mansion will be used for the wall, provided by the parks department, and he'll provide the mulch and weed barrier. The wall area is currently overgrown with plants and saplings. He said he'll remove some of the plants and then reintroduce some of them after the wall is finished. He estimated the project will take two or three weeks.
"I'm excited about this project," Faber said, noting Troop 6 has done several projects in the parks, along with other troops.
"We appreciate all the Eagle Scout projects," Panezott said.
Washam said he chose the parks department for a project because as a cross country runner, he appreciates the city parks.
During old business, Faber updated commission members on the summer concerts and said the programs have been well received. Panezott added that attendance has been good and the committee's already working on next year. Karnofel suggested they consider an Elvis impersonator for one of the concerts, raving about one she saw whose voice is almost perfect.
Faber also talked about the programming with the Salem Public Library and how well it's been going.
During his report, Recreation Supervisor Shane Franks reported that the baseball and softball seasons are coming to a close and mens basketball and the Sunday soccer program are still going strong. He said a fishing tournament was just held at the Salem Lake which attracted 10 participants and he's working on a kids fishing program.
He gave a plug for the Summer Outdoor Arts & Crafts Show planned from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday at Centennial Park, noting a free kids crafts program will be part of the event. Kids can paint their own ceramic figure to take home with them. He also said some alpacas will be there.
Franks said he still wants to try to get people interested in having a women's program for softball and for basketball, but hasn't had much response.
The next Parks Commission meeting is 5 p.m. July 23 at the Memorial Building.