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Public art process goes before Normal City Council

Heartland Community College on Tuesaday could clear another step in the process to build an agriculture complex on the west end of the campus in Normal.
Town of Normal
Heartland Community College on Tuesday could clear another step in the process to build an agriculture complex on the west end of the campus in Normal.

The Town of Normal has formulated a new way to choose whether, which, and how to place art in public spaces. The town has supported public art for decades, but a controversy in recent years over a mural in uptown prompted staff to re-examine the process to make it more intentional.

On Tuesday, town council members will hear about an addition to the comprehensive plan that deals with public art. It includes taking public input, engaging expert opinions, and exploring various funding sources. The council is meeting on Tuesday because Monday is the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.

There's also a proposed pilot project to test the process — a sculpture garden for a park that could cost up to $250,000. Staff said the sculpture garden could take shape in 1 to 1/2 years at the earliest and would not stay static. Annual upkeep for a dynamic program, changing sculpture every two years, would cost a minimum of $25,000 a year for maintenance and to pay leases for the art, said staff in materials prepared for the council.

Also at the meeting, the council could sign off on expansions to Heartland Community College, a bar and restaurant in Uptown Normal, and plan changes in a residential subdivision.

A proposal for a $23 million 29,325-square-foot agriculture building and complex on the west end of Heartland’s Raab Road campus goes before council members. The complex would incorporate indoor and outdoor classrooms, four greenhouses, and an equipment drive. The building itself would be brick and fiber cement, with metal panels in a variety of shades of blue for accent. The roof would have solar arrays. The town's planning commission already has given thumbs up to the proposal.

And, the council will decide on a nearly $1 million addition to Maggie Miley's Pub in Uptown that would create an outdoor second-floor patio on the vacant lot next to the existing restaurant. The project has had no objections so far in the town review process.

Changes to the plan for the Greystone Fields subdivision off Parkside Road also are on the agenda.

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WGLT Senior Reporter Charlie Schlenker has spent more than three award-winning decades in radio. He lives in Normal with his family.
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