City looking to move forward with Lake Wichita spillway mural

WICHITA FALLS - If you've visited Lake Wichita in the last couple of months, you probably noticed the mural on a section of the spillway.

After the local artist came forward and there was an outpour of public support,  it now looks like the mural is on its way to completion as part of the overall Lake Wichita revitalization project.

"This is something the community has said they want," Lake Wichita Revitalization Committee chairman Stephen Garner said.

Now the community could soon get what they asked for. After artist Ralph Stearns admitted to painting the once mysterious mural, city officials are working with the Lake Wichita Revitalization Committee to come to an agreement to complete his masterpiece.

"This is a marathon project and this is one of the things that people will be able to see right away," Garner said. "This is something that's happening out there."

Stephen Garner says if approved,  he feels it's another step forward bringing people to the lake.
  
"People are now going out and taking advantage of the hike and bike trail in large numbers. People are fishing out at the lake again. The new flying steel fish that is over on the west side of the lake, people are going out there to see that specifically and then take advantage of the lake," Garner said.

Deputy City Manager Jim Dockery says while the artwork wasn't approved beforehand, due to so much positive feedback from the community officials decided to waive the requirement of immediate removal and they are now working with Stearns for the rights to the mural. However, they still discourage anyone painting on city property without prior consent.
    
"We would encourage them anytime they're looking to do some improvement like that to come to the city ahead of time because it is a violation of city ordinance to paint anything on city property, whether it's a beautiful work of art or whether it's graffiti," Dockery said. "Fortunately, I think there is enough interest in this project to really make it a beautiful scene out there at the lake."

The city is currently in talks with the artist concerning the rights to the painting, an item which will be up for further discussion at the next city council meeting.


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