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Lake Street utility boxes to be turned into works of art

The Lake Street Council hopes to spruce up Minneapolis's Lake Street by turning its utility boxes into objets d'art.

ZoeAna Martinez, who is the council’s outreach and services manager, explains that the project will help deter graffiti while also making “ugly boxes look better," as she puts it, adding, “We want to help our street look better."

The initiative is similar to ones in the Kingfield and Corcoran neighborhoods. Those neighborhoods used different methods to cover up the utility boxes; one way was to paint right on the surface of the structures. The boxes can also be covered with colorful shrink-wrap that has designs on it, Martinez explains.

To set the project in motion on Lake Street, Martinez is reaching out to local businesses. “We’re just trying to get feedback from businesses,” she says, adding that the council is hoping that the stakeholders will pitch in by sponsoring local boxes. 

The more utility boxes it can cover up, the better, she says, adding that sponsorship means a price break for the council as well.

Right now, the project's budget is still being determined. It’ll be based on how many boxes the council decides to do. “We’re still at the beginning of the process,” she says.  

The council is also working with the city on a project that’s titled Minneapolis Art Wrap, whose purpose is to make the process smoother for others who want to decorate their local utility boxes.

“In the last two years, the City of Minneapolis has seen increased interest by community groups in wrapping City-owned utility boxes with artistic designs,” council materials state.

Soon the city will be sending out a request for proposals to artists to design 12 pre-approved wrap covers to go on utility boxes all over the city.

It'll help streamline the city process, in that applicants won’t have to go through the art-related city committee to get designs approved. They can simply choose from one of the pre-approved designs, she says. “It makes it easier for groups to get city-owned utility boxes wrapped."   

Although the details are still up in the air at this point, the council hopes to complete it this year, Martinez says.

Source: ZoeAna Martinez, outreach and services manager, Lake Street Council
Writer: Anna Pratt
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