Originally created 04/02/02

Out of the picture



One of downtown Augusta's biggest murals, and some say one of its biggest eyesores, will be gone by Wednesday.

The cracked and crumbling stucco mural that adorned a 63-by-22 foot wall at the northeast corner of 13th and Broad streets was chipped away by workers Monday as part of a renovation project sponsored by the Downtown Development Authority.

The mural, which had an Olympic rowing theme, was commissioned by five Augusta businesses. It began falling apart about two years after it was completed in 1995, apparently because the stucco was not installed correctly. Rowers trained in the area for the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta.

"Hopefully the new stucco will be up by Wednesday," said Chris Naylor, the executive director of the Downtown Development Authority, which selected the mural as a project for its ongoing downtown beautification initiative.

For years, residents complained that the mural, located at a busy downtown intersection, made the city look bad to visitors.

"I drive by it just about every day," Augusta resident Maurie Reardon said. "I always hoped that somebody would do something about it."

The wall on which the mural was painted is on state Department of Transportation right of way. That's part of the reason local officials have been slow to fix it, said Mr. Naylor, who was hired by the authority last year.

A new mural will be painted on the property later this year, after a public comment period and bidding process. Mr. Naylor said he is working with the transportation department to landscape the small strip of property that separates the wall from 13th Street.

Reach Damon Cline at (706) 823-3486 or dcline@augustachronicle.com.