Clintonville Historical Society president Mary Rodgers is in negotiations with CSX Corp. officials to allow a mural to be painted on the railroad overpass at East North Broadway and Interstate 71.

Clintonville Historical Society president Mary Rodgers is in negotiations with CSX Corp. officials to allow a mural to be painted on the railroad overpass at East North Broadway and Interstate 71.

If the talks bear fruit - and Rodgers said last week she hopes this happens by the middle of the month - it would pave the way for spending a $6,500 grant the society received through the Chase 200Columbus Neighborhood Grant Program.

"It's a very involved process," Rodgers said. "We're getting closer to that day.

"We have to continue to work with them on the specifications of the overall dimensions."

Until permission of the Jacksonville, Fla.-based rail corporation is obtained, however, the Historical Society president said she cannot move forward with the design of the proposed mural or take too many steps toward selecting an artist.

Rodgers said four experienced mural artists have stepped forward to express their interest in the project.

"Certainly we would love to work with someone even more local," Rodgers said, noting only one of the four is based in Columbus.

"We haven't selected anyone," she added. "We haven't moved through the actual specifics of the design."

The Clintonville Historical Society received the funding during the first round of grant applications last fall. The second round was announced on Jan. 11.

"The JPMorgan Chase Foundation has invested $200,000 to help the effort to get neighborhoods across seven counties involved in celebrating the 200th birthday of Columbus," according to a website devoted to the program, which is administered by the Greater Columbus Arts Council.

"The grant program seeks to inspire neighborhoods to get creative and help create a community that is more inspired and proud of the increasing vitality of Columbus. Participants are encouraged to explore the role their specific neighborhood has played in the city's 200-year history and develop cultural, educational, diverse and multigenerational activities that may include legacy projects, works of art, customized performances, and other creative programs/activities."

The western side of the railroad bridge, facing motorists and pedestrians departing Clintonville and entering Linden, is an ideal location for a history-based mural to be affixed, Rodgers said. The overpass is "basically the gateway between Clintonville and Linden," she said, and the theme of the mural is to reflect the shared history of the two "streetcar neighborhoods."

"There's a lot of commonality between the two communities," Rodgers said.

"The Columbus Bicentennial seeks to create a community that is more inspired and proud of the increasing vitality of Columbus," Milt Baughman, president of Greater Columbus Arts Council, said in announcing the second round of grant applications. "Chase is helping us to accomplish one of the core goals of the Bicentennial: engaging and promoting the neighborhoods that are the building blocks of our great city."

Grants of from $500 to $10,000 are available to neighborhoods in Delaware, Fairfield, Franklin, Licking, Madison, Pickaway and Union counties.

"Participants are urged to explore the role their specific neighborhood has played in the city's 200-year history," the grant announcement stated. "The program encourages cultural, educational, diverse and multigenerational activities including legacy projects, works of art, customized performances or other creative programs and activities. Funding will be based on, among other criteria, level of collaboration among multiple residents and organizations, commitment to raise matching funds and in-kind support for the project, sustainable aspects of the project, and thematic consistency with the overall 200Columbus celebration."

The requirement to involve other organizations has led to the Maize Road Business Association taking on the role of the Linden community's representative in the mural project, Rodgers said. Others may come on board, particularly to help with raising the necessary matching funds.

Several organizations in Clintonville have been contacted to provide financial assistance, but Rodgers said so far she has nothing in writing.

"We have a lot of verbal interest in the project," she said.

The society president indicated she hopes to have the mural completed by September.

"There's no magic to that September date," Rodgers said. "We have all of 2012 to plan the actual mural. The big thing here is getting CSX's written buy-in and commitment.

"We're working hard to get that happening."