With the lower level of Whitehall Community Park reseeded with natural wildflowers, the addition of rain gardens along Etna Road, renovations to existing buildings by companies such as Wasserstrom, and Heartland Bank's stunning new corporate headquarters, Whitehall continues to explore and cultivate transformational projects that improve the visual beauty throughout our city.

In order to continue this progress, I believe that we must add more public art and focus on the beautification of public spaces in Whitehall.

Public art -- whether it be Anish Kapoor's "Cloud Gate" (The Bean) in Chicago or Malcolm Cochran's "Field of Corn (with Osage Orange Trees)" in Dublin -- has the ability to connect and attract new visitors. A positive direct correlation exists between public art, economic vitality and an increase in a neighborhood's appeal.

The flower sculpture at the intersection of Fairway Boulevard and Hamilton Road on loan from Stephen Canneto and Judith Spater is one example of existing public art in Whitehall.

When public art is properly implemented, it brings neighbors together and opens former strangers to new conversations.

However, public art also can be less traditional, such as decorating city benches or utility boxes with colorful murals or paintings.

Another example that aims to get the community involved is Project Backboard.

Project Backboard transforms public basketball courts into surface murals, allowing local teens to participate in the painting process and take ownership of a project while effecting visible change.

If you have yet to stop and admire it, please visit our newest piece of public art: the mural taking shape at the city's parks and recreation offices, 721 Country Club Road. Whitehall artist Wil Wong Yee's abstract work perfectly captures the peace, color and inviting nature of John Bishop Park.

Keep public art in mind the next time you're driving around the city, and ask yourself these questions: What is my favorite piece of public art? Where in Whitehall would I most like to see public art? What kind -- visual or interactive?

Help us plan for the future of public art in Whitehall. If you were unable to attend the September social and would like to get involved in the process, contact community affairs manager Kaitlin King at 614-237-8613 to stay informed about the creation of a public art advisory committee.

Kim Maggard is mayor of Whitehall.