Rushing to paint over The Shed Murals a bad public relations move |

Rushing to paint over The Shed Murals a bad public relations move

We’re confused.

And judging from the number of e-mails and phone calls we’ve received, we aren’t the only ones.

Last Thursday, we ran a photo of the murals on the side of The Shed, where a condo development is set to be built in Winter Park.

We interviewed the artist who painted the murals and ran this quote from Kathy Spencer, planning assistant for the town of Winter Park: “I commented (to the developers) that the murals really mean a lot to the community and we would love to see if we could save them in one form or another.”

The building that was once The Shed restaurant (and still bears the lighted sign from the former business) is going to be used as a sales office and is scheduled for demolition sometime next year.

The day the article ran, we received a nice e-mail from one of the developers, Stephen Wilklow of Winter Park Group.

He wrote, “Thank you for running this article about the Shed Mural. As the Developer we would love to preserve the Mural. We have asked around and no one really had any ideas. We were told that the paint was in need of work and that maybe it had run its time.

“I would love to have a conversation with you regarding this. Winter Park Group welcomes your thoughts and ideas. How can we make this something for charity?

Give the funds to some worthy cause? We really talked about putting this on E-bay.”

Believing the developers wanted to preserve the Winter Park icon, we scheduled a story for the following Tuesday’s paper. We were going to run more photos of the mural and get a dialogue going about what could be done to save them.

Tuesday, it turned out, was too late.

On Saturday, our phones were ringing from outraged readers who said people were out painting over The Shed murals.

Sure enough, by the time we made it to Winter Park, the murals were gone ” except for in photographs.

The timing of this paint job is surprising ” to understate the comments made by readers this week.

Why were the same people who announced they would be happy to help the community preserve a piece of its past in such a hurry to destroy it?

What a waste of paint. What a waste of political capital and community goodwill.

On Tuesday, in the page we’d set aside to open the mural discussion, we instead published the announcement that the walls are now bare.

Strangely, nothing else seems to have changed with the building. The Shed sign still lights up at night. A board is still hanging on the front door from the old restaurant, complete with chalk smears from the last special that came out of that kitchen.

Read the novel “The Milagro Beanfield War” or any other Jon Nichols novel for that matter and you’ll see a perfect example of the developer as destroyer of all things cultural and beautiful archetype. People love to see developers as villains.

That’s why painting the mural was such a bad public relations move on the part of the Winter Park Group.

Maybe we and our readers simply don’t understand the logic behind rushing to paint over The Shed Murals before anyone could act to save them, but the perception is this: There are developers who want to build here because of the community and there are developers who build here despite the community.

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