A resident in the Old Orange Historic District, which falls under special city rules, has permission to paint an ivy and flower design on a wooden fence.
However, Christine Vermeulen Hanchey, who made the request, lost patience during a meeting discussion. She walked out before the Historic Preservation Commission voted.
Her walk-out came after a new member of the commission called an example of fence painting as “harsh and garish.” Robin Craig-Hunt, the new member on the commission, said “I’m sorry” after Hanchey left.
Hanchey lives on Eighth Street at Orange Avenue. She said she plans to install two of the old-fashioned street lights approved by the city. She wants to paint a wooden fence with ivy and a small flower. She said the design will have an antiqued-hue.
Her presentation came after a discussion about allowing art projects in the Old Orange Historic District.
City Manager Mike Kunst said he has an idea to install a wooden board and have an art design painted on it. The proposed site is a city-owned lot at Park Avenue and Simmons Drive by the Boat Ramp. It is in the historic district, so the commission must give permission.
Kunst showed a copy of a design that has been commissioned to be painted on an exterior wall at the Orange Public Library in downtown. The building is not in the historic district and does not need approval by the preservation commission.
Kunst said another idea is to paint designs on the skateboard park at Sunset Park along 16th Street. Again, the park is not in the historic district.
Planning Director Kelvin Knauf said art improves the quality of life in the city. “I think it would be very valuable and attractive.”
Kunst described artwork as “the icing on the cake. The spice of life.”
He said he hopes projects will draw artists to submit plans and ideas. A committee would be formed to approve art plans on city-sponsored projects.
Knauf held up a black-and-white historic photograph and said some businesses could reproduce local historic scenes on buildings.
Craig-Hunt, who moved here from The Woodlands, said she is an artist with a background in interior design. “Tasteful is subjective,” she said.
She said murals are also referred to as “street art” and will attract vandals. “I don’t want to see future vandalism,” she said.
Cleaning up the community will help attract people more than art, she said.
The Historic Preservation Commission made no decision on allowing Kunst’s proposed artwork.
Even though Craig-Hunt did not want fences in the district painted, the three other members said they trusted Hanchey’s plan and gave approval. The other members are Chair Alan Mesecher, Ben Meadows, and Suzanne Perry. All live in the historic district.
The Orange City Council appoints citizens to the Historic Preservation Commission. The commission currently has one vacancy.
-Margaret Toal, KOGT-