WSNA Launches Petition to Save Neighborhood Wall Art
When Jason Milligan hired a wall mural artist to adorn the side of his building at 21 Isaac Street, his vision was for the artwork was to reflect a view of a future Wall Street, thriving, rich and colorful. The artwork depicts a completed building at the corner of Wall and Isaac, in place of the now-defunct POKO Phase 1. The artwork itself beautifies a building that was itself part of the failed POKO land deal, a building that is now fully redeveloped and occupied by a Norwalk-owned small business.
The mural has been cheered by neighborhood businesses and residents alike for whom it has become a much needed breath of fresh air. That is - all except for one former-zoning commissioner, who objected to the mural containing names of local businesses from the area. This person, who is neither a resident of Wall Street nor the owner of a local business, decided to take her disgruntled view directly to the zoning board. This resulted in fines being levied against the building owner at $150 a day.
The Wall Street Neighborhood Association sees this political bullying as a punitive over reach by the zoning commission - especially considering that the blight of POKO Phase 1 which has had such a hugely detrimental impact on local businesses - has only resulted in a fine of $100 a day against Citi-Bank. Meanwhile, other businesses that have similar murals continue unabated, such as O'Neils in South Norwalk that has a wall size mural that contains its own name that has existed for years.
The main objection of the complainant is that the artwork is being used as advertisement of these named businesses. Our view is that this is ART, not advertisement - art that makes a strong statement about the condition of our neighborhood, and the future we all want to see for Wall Street. With respect toward the artistic and political statement this mural makes, we see our petition to save the work not only as a defense of public art beautifying a once dilapidated (now fully redeveloped) building, but also a matter of a free speech protected by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.
We therefore call on all Norwalk citizens who appreciate art for art sake, all those who defend free speech, civil liberty and the rights of property owners, as well as all who are friends of Wall Street and Downtown Norwalk to join with us, and sign our petition to save this art mural, lift the fines, and most of all to encourage the members of the zoning board to start working with local businesses for the good of the overall community.