Normal does not want mural standing in the way of Uptown construction

Uptown mural
The Town of Normal is preparing a contingency plan to move this mural in case a court rules that it should be preserved despite a developer’s plan to build a five-story building on the site. (Save the Uptown Mural and Historic Buildings Facebook page)


By Howard Packowitz

Normal – Leaders in the Town of Normal do not want a controversy over an artists’ mural to delay construction of a major uptown development. So, they’ve come up with a potentially costly plan in case a court orders that the mural should be saved, instead of facing the wrecking ball to make way for the Trail East project.

City Manager Pamela Reece believes the town government is on solid legal ground that it’s not necessary to preserve the mural on the northeast portion of Uptown Circle.

However, a staff report to the town council said some of the mural’s painters, commissioned by a former uptown business known as The Pod, want to assert their rights under the Visual Artists Rights Act, which is part of federal copyright law.

Monday night, the council will be presented with a plan from the Farnsworth Group, an engineering firm intending to move its offices into the five-story building. Farnsworth suggested the mural can be spared from demolition and moved somewhere at a price range of $56,200 to $81,560.

Reece said the town would attempt to receive reimbursement from people connected with The Pod, who are responsible for the mural.

The town council has made a substantial investment in Trail East, agreeing to rebate up to $8 million dollars from tax increment financing to the developer over an 18 year period to build the complex.

Construction is expected to start this spring. Reece said letters of intent have been signed to fill up 70 percent of the available office space. A food hall is planned for the first floor, with residential space on the top level.

Howard Packowitz can be reached at [email protected]


Labor Day – Expanding voting rights for all

By Mike Matejka Because of COVID, there is no Labor Day Parade this year.  It’s always a great event for our everyday workers to march proudly down the street and enjoys the festive crowd. If there had been a parade, this year’s Labor Day theme was to be “150 years of struggle: your right to vote.” …

Is federal mobilization the answer?

By Mike Matejka As President Donald Trump threatens to send federal marshals into Chicago, over the objections of Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker, recall another Illinois Governor who protested the incursion of armed federal personnel into the city.   Those federal troops, rather than calming, escalated the situation, leading to deaths and violence. Illinois poet Vachel Lindsay…

In these troubled times, to my fellow white Americans

By Mike Matejka Our nation is at a unique watershed in human relations. African-Americans have been killed too many times in the past before George Floyd, but the response to this man’s death is international and all-encompassing. I was a grade-schooler during the Civil Rights 1960s. I watched Birmingham demonstrators hosed and the Selma – Montgomery…

Workers’ Memorial Day – Remember those whose job took their life

Looking around our community, when we say employer, most will respond to State Farm, Country, or Illinois State University.   We too often forget those who are building our roads, serving our food, or our public employees. COVID-19 has made us more aware of the risk.  Going to work every day for some people means…