Five years and five new Clintonville Area Commission members later, Chairwoman Libby Wetherholt feels it's time for an update on a plan intended to transform "big, ugly boxes" into displays of public art.
The concept, first brought up at a 2013 CAC session during discussion of potential Urban Infrastructure Recovery Fund projects, involves wrapping traffic-signal boxes in works of art on vinyl.
Since so much time has passed and fewer than half the panel's nine members were around in 2013, Wetherholt said the idea will be reviewed again at the CAC's final meeting of the year, set for 7 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 6, at the Whetstone branch of the Columbus Metropolitan Library, 3909 N. High St.
"It never really fully fell off the radar," said Andrew Overbeck, then and now chairman of the commission's planning and development committee.
He was the one who, at that long-ago session, described the traffic signal boxes as being big and ugly.
"We had other priorities," Overbeck said. "We've been long thinking about it."
The thinking part is done and action is on the horizon.
"When we first went to the city, they weren't really big on it," Wetherholt said. "Since then, they have developed a policy on it and have a couple of approved vendors for the final film wrapping. That helps a lot."
"When we first started talking about this, the city did not have a policy on traffic-signal-box wrapping," Overbeck said. "We would have been really trailblazing."
"I haven't thought about this in five years," said Kristopher Keller, the District 8 representative in 2013 who went on to serve as chairman before stepping down from the panel in 2016.
"I guess other things came up and it just slipped my mind that we made that decision. I haven't thought about it since, but I have seen some lovely installations in other areas.
"It can help add to the uniqueness of an area if it's done well. If it isn't, it can look kind of trashy."
New as the idea was in 2013, there were examples around the country of decorated traffic-signal boxes, and the Arts Council of Indianapolis now publishes guidelines for these installations.
The effort, according to those guidelines, is designed to allow neighborhoods to "express their identity, beautify their streets, and discourage 'tagging' vandalism."
Five years ago, the focus for the CAC's public-art program was on all 26 ground-mounted boxes in the neighborhood.
That's being scaled back considerably.
"Right now, we're starting with seven on High Street," Wetherholt said. "We know about how much each will cost and perhaps we might be paring down the number depending on how much we can raise."
Those seven boxes -- five large ones on concrete pads and two smaller, pole-mounted boxes -- are located at Morse, Henderson and Hollenback roads; Kanawha, Como and Oakland Park avenues; and North Broadway.
Wetherholt estimated the cost for the vinyl wrapping at $2,000 for the larger boxes, and that doesn't include any kind of payment to the artists.
"We would intend to provide a stipend of some kind," Overbeck said.
Wetherholt and Overbeck met recently with members of the Columbus Art Commission to discuss the idea of traffic-signal-box decoration on an informal basis.
"I think they will be popping up here," Wetherholt said.
"There are examples from cities large and small," Overbeck said. "We're pretty excited about it. I think we have some momentum now that we can work with. The time is right."