Sidewalk chalk art rules on Dayton drawing board

The city is considering a policy to limit the art to certain streets.

Tools for the sidewalk chalk artist.

Tools for the sidewalk chalk artist. Wikimedia commons photo

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DAYTON — Avoiding conflicts and concerns about safety are driving a Dayton City Council move to set a policy on sidewalk chalk art.

The council is seeking public comment on a resolution which would allow sidewalk chalk art to be drawn on some city sidewalks. City officials said the resolution is designed to provide guidelines which would minimize conflicts and keep people safe.

“It does feel a bit bureaucratic, but on the other hand, (we’re) trying to give people sufficient directions so they’re staying out of harm’s way,” Planning Director Karen Scharer said.

Under the proposed four-page draft resolution, prospective sidewalk chalk artists would have to apply for a permit which includes drawing a site plan for the artwork.

Chalk art would be allowed on some sidewalks adjacent to Main Street: the northeast sidewalk on Front Street, the east and west sidewalks on First and Second Street, and the west sidewalk on Third Street.

Other rules in the resolution stipulate that the area being chalked must be cordoned off, and only water may be used to wash chalk art off of sidewalks. Chalk drawing would be allowed between 7 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., and any art would have to be washed off by 8 p.m. on the day it was created.

The resolution was developed after a discussion at the council’s June 24 meeting, where resident Elena Riggs asked the city to consider allowing local artist Ben Huwe to draw with chalk on Main Street to help generate interest in his work. Huwe, who is developmentally disabled, creates cards and other artwork he sells locally.

Riggs, who works with Huwe, said he had approached several Main Street businesses and gotten their permission to draw with chalk on the sidewalks in front of their establishments, but wanted to seek council permission as well.

At the meeting, several council members expressed a desire to have a policy in place, which they felt would help reduce potential problems such as artists getting in the way of popular downtown events such as Mule Mania, which starts July 18. After discussion, Mayor Craig George asked Scharer to develop a draft policy.

Scharer said the goal of the policy is to set guidelines the city would consider “reasonable and appropriate.”

She is seeking public comment on the proposal through July 17. She will present written comments at the July 22 council meeting before the draft policy is considered.

The draft can be viewed on the Union-Bulletin’s website at union-bulletin.com. Comments can be emailed to Karen Scharer at kscharer@daytonwa.com, faxed to 509-382-2539 or mailed to 111 S. 1st St., Dayton, WA, 99328.

Rachel Alexander can be reached at rachelalexander@wwub.com or 509-526-8363.

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