By Debby Woodin
JOPLIN, Mo. —
A design for a plaza where a Route 66 tile mural is to be installed downtown is proposed at $160,000.
The Joplin Park Board agreed at a meeting Tuesday to recommend that the City Council approve the proposed design. The design is to be presented to the council at its regular meeting Monday.
The park is proposed to replace a decaying brick plaza located there now. A Route 66 tile mural by Paul Whitehill of Images in Tile is to be installed on the side of the Pearl Bros. building. It is close to the corner of Seventh and Main streets. The original Route 66 came south on Main Street to Seventh Street, where it turned west and headed to Kansas. A later change routed the highway onto Seventh Street through Joplin.
Patrick Tuttle, director of the Joplin Convention and Visitors Bureau, told the board that groups of visitors frequently ride through Joplin following the path of the old Route 66, but there is not anything in the city to cause them to stop in town. The mural is intended to be a photo stop for those visitors with the hope that some of them will spend time, and money, in the city.
Architect Chad Greer of Corner Greer and Associates designed the new park. Whitehill’s design calls for a large mural to be installed high on the side of the building to be visible from a distance, with a smaller mural at ground level. That mural will have a car in front of it as a prop for people to take pictures as if they were driving on the historic route.
The design of the park calls for an asphalt “road” to be installed under the car prop, with the remaining plaza to be paved in tiles, some of them lighted to create interest and safety in the site at night. There also would be a lighted neon “Route 66” sign.
“It’s a very durable, low maintenance design,” Greer told the board.
Chris Cotten, parks and recreation director, asked if the plan calls for money to be set aside for repairs. Tuttle said it does. Cotten said his crews would keep the park cleaned and repaired.
The murals are to be installed in time for the Route 66 International Festival to be held here in August, but the park cannot be constructed by then, Tuttle said.
In other business, the board endorsed a project by Sisters of Mercy Health System to hold activities outside city pools before or after free swims. The project is intended to help children adjust to changes that have affected them since the 2011 tornado. The children are taught how to solve problems, to be flexible and to have positive thinking through games and activities, Mercy representative Alicia West told the board. The program follows up on community dinners the hospital has been holding during the school year to help with psychological recovery.
“We’re just trying to give them tools to be flexible,” and to have a positive attitude about the changes children are going through since many have had to move to different schools and different homes as a result of the storm, she said.
THE PARK BOARD AGREED to support a recommendation that the plaza, on the south side of the Pearl Bros. hardware store, be named Route 66 Mural Park.