By Michael Howell
The Hamilton City Council agreed to pay outgoing councilor Nancy Joy Valk $1,000 for an impressionist painting based on the mural that she painted on the concrete wall in American Legion Park last fall. Valk already received $1,000 for her work on the mural.
Councilor Al Mitchell said that some folks might question spending the additional $1,000, “but I think we actually underpaid for it considering all the work that went into it.”
Council President Lynette Helgeland noted that the original agreement was simply for the mural and the idea of purchasing a painting was added later. She said the mural won’t last forever and in the future the city will be soliciting more artists to contribute some sort of mural to the park.
“Are we setting a precedent of paying a fee for the mural and then paying again for some added artwork?” she asked. She said that the Council should have put it out originally as a project that was going to cost $2,000 instead of $1,000 and asked more artists to participate.
Councilor Mel Monson said that there were a lot of schools in the city and that he thought that the students should have been considered to do the artwork.
“It’s nice to have kids working in the community,” he said. He said it also helps the students.
Mitchell said the conversation was getting off topic. He said no precedent was being set.
“Next time we will cover all our bases,” he said.
“It was our first foray into the field and you always learn lessons,” said Councilor Jenny West said. “I think public art is important.” She mentioned the artwork done on the city’s traffic boxes.
“This is a good deal and leaves behind a legacy of Nancy. She worked hard and it is a good piece of art,” said West.
“I’m not opposed to public art,” said Helgeland. “Public art is great. But we didn’t pay anything for the artwork on the traffic boxes.”
Councilor Joe Petrusaitis said that, on the one hand, students do a lot of projects for the school and get reimbursed in other ways.
“On the other hand,” he said, “the person that painted this spent a lot of time and wasn’t doing something for the school or for a boy scout badge. A person puts their own time in and I don’t think it’s wrong to compensate a person for that kind of thing.”
The Council approved paying $1,000 for the additional painting on a 3 to 2 vote. Councilors Mitchell, West and Petrusaitis voted in favor. Councilors Helgeland and Monson voted against it. Valk abstained from voting.
In other business, the Council unanimously approved three separate right of way transfer agreements with the county concerning the Fairground Road improvements.
The Council also approved a grant application to pay for councilors to attend a “Building Active Communities” workshop to be held in Bozeman and a grant request form designed by City Attorney Karen Mahar that organizations could use when asking for City support on grant requests to other organizations and agencies.