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Pick your palette

Outcry over gray pavers prompts call for public input on Plaza booth colors
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Artist Sue Springer compares potential colors for Ashland's information booth on the Plaza. Daily Tidings / Jamie LuschJamie Lusch
 Posted: 2:00 AM October 01, 2013

After residents complained about the color of new pavers in the Plaza, the city of Ashland is checking with the public first before repainting the information booth there.

People can view panels with sample paint colors at the booth, which is staffed by Ashland Chamber of Commerce volunteers.

The volunteers have a tally sheet to record people's preferences.

The panels are taken in at night when the booth closes.

"We want people to let us know what you think," said local artist Sue Springer, who was asked by the City Council to research paint colors for the booth along with Chamber Executive Director Sandra Slattery and Public Arts Commissioner Margaret Garrington.

Taking public input into account, the three will make a recommendation to the City Council Oct. 15.

Color combination choices are blue and creamy yellow with white- and gray-striped accents; tan with dark green trim; creamy yellow with dark green trim; and tan with blue trim.

Many residents expressed dismay that dark gray pavers were used for a major Plaza reconstruction that wrapped up this spring. Councilors and residents were caught off-guard by the color because design drawings showed a tan Plaza surface. Dark gray pavers were chosen after people at a public art color selection meeting said dark gray would better offset mosaics that were installed by Springer as part of the reconstruction.

The multi-colored, abstract mosaics feature natural tones, including tan and green.

Tan, light gray and dark gray pavers were on display at the meeting, which was poorly attended by the public despite the city sending out dozens of invitations.

"In hindsight, it would have been better to take the pavers to the City Council and say, 'Pick one,'" said Springer, who has been blamed by some residents for the dark gray pavers.

Others blame the public art color selection panel.

Springer was at the panel meeting to get directions for the mosaic colors.

Residents continue to come to council meetings to voice disapproval over the dark gray pavers.

After a summer study session, councilors decided not to replace the dark gray pavers with tan ones. Digging out the current pavers and replacing them would cost $35,000, according to city staff research.

Painting the pavers would not be a lasting solution since the paint would wear away. It could also affect the permeability of the pavers, which allow rainwater to percolate through to the soil below, staff said.

Councilors decided to bring more color to the reconstructed Plaza by painting the information booth and accepting a gift of hanging flower baskets from local couple Kathryn and Barry Thalden.

The $200,000 Plaza reconstruction included removing several mature trees and lawn areas that were suffering in the urban environment, adding low cement walls to protect landscaping and double as seating, installing benches and burying a time capsule to be opened in 100 years.

The city also began offering free wireless Internet service on the Plaza through its Ashland Fiber Network.

Staff reporter Vickie Aldous can be reached at 541-479-8199 or

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