Plan to light up downtown landmark next spring moves forward as Arts Board reaches $30,000 target
Visitors to Grafton’s Bridge Street dam can look forward to an illuminating experience next spring.
A project approved by the Village Board last year calls for the downtown landmark to be displayed in the glow of colored lights attached to the underside of the Bridge Street bridge.
Expected to cost $30,000, the project will become a reality because of the Public Arts Board, a seven-member committee that spent the past 18 months raising funds for the effort.
“It’s going to be beautiful. It’s really exciting,” Arts Board Chairman Erin Blum said of the project.
“It’s been well-received. We haven’t heard any negative responses.”
Established in 2010 at the recommen-dation of Village Administrator Darrell Hofland, the Arts Board has overseen a variety of projects designed to promote Grafton’s civic and cultural heritage.
Among the projects have been Little Free Libraries, Poetry Paths sidewalk poems, decorative rain barrels and guitar-styled art, but the most ambitious to date is the illuminated dam, known as Art in Motion.
Plans call for as many as a dozen LED lights with interchangeable colors to be focused on the water as it cascades over the dam, creating a spectator-friendly attraction. The lights are expected to be installed in spring, with a public unveiling event tentatively set for May.
After discussing ways to illuminate the dam, the Arts Board agreed to use a design created and demonstrated by students at the Milwaukee School of Engineering.
Although original plans called for the dam to be illuminated by underwater lights, it was determined that bridge-mounted fixtures would be less costly and have fewer potential problems.
Conduits and electrical extensions to the bridge will be installed as part of dam repairs that began last summer and are scheduled to be completed early next year.
In approving the project, the Village Board specified that it would have to be privately funded.
It didn’t take long for the Arts Board to find donors. The Zaun Memorial Foundation contributed $10,000, and anonymous donors gave $20,005.
The Arts Board raised another $1,058 at a craft-beer tasting event, putting the total at more than $31,000.
Trustee Dave Antoine, a three-year Arts Board member, said the generous response of donors has been gratifying.
“We really haven’t had to go out and solicit a lot of money for this,” Antoine said.
“People who heard about it thought it would be a nice idea and stepped forward.”
Although some believe the project will still require public funds, Antoine said he’s quick to set them straight.
“I want to make it very clear that this is not taxpayers’ money,” he said.
To cover the cost of other projects, the Arts Board has used donations from local businesses and individuals. In addition to the beer-tasting event, the group’s fundraising activities have included a group outing at a Lakeshore Chinooks baseball game and a comedy night.
Altogether, nearly $38,000 is available for public arts projects. Among other displays being discussed are decorative tree art and a grafitti wall in Lime Kiln Park.
Blum said Arts Board members have worked hard behind the scenes to give creativity a public face.
“We have a great board,” she said. “We care about Grafton, and we’re trying to project a positive image of the community to people who come here.”
More information is available on the Arts Board’s Facebook page, including a link to a video demonstration of the waterfall illumination project.