HIGH SPRINGS ‒ The High Springs City Commission on Feb. 9 approved nine mural applications. At the City Commission meeting, High Springs Planning Tech Kristy Adkins explained the location of each property, location of the intended mural on each building and showed renderings of the type of art that would be included in each mural.

The Historic Preservation Board reviewed each of the applications and voted to recommend approval to the City Commission with the specification that each one was to meet the size requirements specified in the City’s ordinance.

All of the applications were approved with varying votes and added caveats. The first mural will be located at 18555 Main Street and will feature train(s).

The second mural will be located at 23560 N.W. 185th Road, Suite 30 and will feature the old speedway, which several people were not aware had been a part of early High Springs.

The third mural will be located at 18487 Main Street and will feature diver(s). This application received unanimous approval with the caveat that the mural be painted on a panel and installed at a later time. The issue was that the City lists the property as residential, although the County Appraiser lists it as commercial. The property has been used as commercial as far back as anyone can recall and was the old post office in years gone by.

Stathatos said the City plans to correct the zoning to match the Future Land Use Map sometime this year. When that has been accomplished, the panel will be installed on the building.

The fourth mural will be located at 19064 N.W. U.S. Highway 441 and will feature the agricultural aspects of the City – primarily the tobacco crops that used to be grown by most farmers. Commissioner Byran Williams suggested the barn featured in the mural photo be changed to a tobacco barn.

Commissioner Katherine Weitz made a motion to remove the words on the mural which read, “Agricultural Roots.” The motion died for lack of a second. Another motion was made to approve the mural application which was approved 4 – 1, with Weitz casting the dissenting vote.

The fifth mural application was for property located at 18564 N.W. 238th Street. This mural featured the Santa Fe River and was approved with the caveat that the mural be reduced in size to meet the ordinance requirements.

Mural #6 will be located at 18767 Main Street and will feature Old Bellamy Road. It was pointed out that this road is the oldest road in Florida and should be included in a mural.

The next mural will be featured on the Duke Energy building located at 23074 N.W. 186th Avenue and will feature Florida cowboys. The mural depicted a cowboy on a horse with a whip in his hand, which was used to move cattle along. Commissioner Weitz thought the whip should be removed, but the mural was approved without that modification.

The eighth mural will be located at 18559 N.W. 237th Street on the Prohibition Pizza building next door to the Priest Theater and will feature the theater. The owner was on hand and made a couple of suggestions for additions.

The ninth mural will be located at 18578 N.W. 237th Street and will feature the Timucuans Indigenous People. This application garnered the most discussion. Commissioner Byran Williams said he was very disappointed that African Americans were not featured on any of the murals yet they had made major contributions to the area. “There was not enough dialogue with the African American community,” said Williams.

Heart of High Springs President Nancy Lavin said they were not able to obtain photos of Lily Springs, the location where African Americans were allowed to swim during segregation, or several other historical documents they wanted to find. She said that the group wanted to put murals of Essie Gassett and Tom Deedeman up, but the City refused to allow them to be installed on the City-owned buildings they felt would be most appropriate for them.

She said their murals were going to be painted on panels until the group could find a good location to install them. She said also that it would take some time to get permission to use the Community School building previously suggested by Weitz and, said Lavin, they were all volunteers and didn’t have enough time to get School Board permission. Commissioner Williams said that Catherine Taylor would have made a good subject for a mural.

Following discussion, the mural application was unanimously approved.

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