Several weeks back, what looks to be a lighthouse from a miniature golf course appeared on a curb adjacent to the post office in downtown Belfast. If this sounds familiar, then the sculpture — “Stop!” by Mike Hurley, a late entry to the ECo-Motion downtown public art exhibition — has done half its job.

The rest, according to Hurley, may take some work.

The black-and-white-striped tower is a prototype for a non-electric-powered pedestrian crossing signal. The idea being that a person who wants to cross the street can turn a crank on the side of the tower, which in turn spins an axle connected to pair of diamond-shaped plaques studded with reflectors at the top.

If all goes well, the unusual display catches the attention of passing motorists, alerting them to the presence of a pedestrian in the crosswalk, and they … well, stop!

Hurley, a city councilor and former mayor, said the idea for the piece started to take shape several years ago when the Waldo County General Hospital contacted the city about installing an electric pedestrian crossing light on Northport Avenue to help with foot traffic between the main campus and the auxiliary parking lot across the street.

“It was so expensive. It was like, wow,” Hurley said. “At the time, I thought, there’s got to be a cheaper way to do that.”

More recently, he read about a South African village that had, with the help of a retired ad executive, harnessed children’s energy, using a pump connected to a merry-go-round to convey clean drinking water from a well to the village. The device was a boon to the village women, who had previously spent the better part of every day carrying water from a hand-pumped well.

Hurley said it got him thinking about non-electric solutions for tasks that would otherwise be accomplished with the help of electricity. The manual power devices would, he reasoned, save money and conserve energy.

Waterfall Arts’ annual ECo-Motion public art exhibition, with its focus on the environment by way of celebrating bicycles, provided the final inspiration for Hurley’s hand-cranked crossing signal. Though discounting a few reflectors that may or may not have come from bicycles, the piece skirts the exhibition’s mandate to use bicycle parts.

Looking into an acrylic window on the side of the tower, one expects to see gears and a long chain connecting the crank to the signal flags, but Hurley opted against bike parts after seeing how often the other ECo-Motion pieces needed repairs. Instead he went with a custom-designed direct-drive mechanism, which he felt would be more resistant to accidental damage or vandalism.

The plywood housing, painted on two sides with black and white stripes, and on alternate sides with multicolored shoe prints, is undoubtedly eye-catching. But as Hurley is the first to admit, the message it sends to motorists could be clearer.

Hurley is clear that “Stop!” is a work in progress. The striped tower bears a plaque explicitly stating that the sculpture is a prototype. The plaque also lists Hurley’s e-mail address and asks for suggestions.

So far, Hurley said he’s heard from motorists who complain that they can’t see around the piece. His response comes in the form of a wry observation: “You know what I can’t see around? I can’t see around Key Bank, but were not talking about moving that.”

Hurley said he would probably modify the design in future models, for other reasons.

He pointed to a lamppost across the intersection — the epitome of low-key, municipal utility. Using a pole like that for the base, he said, would make the piece less likely to be vandalized.

And future versions would probably be taller, he said, to prevent passers-by from reaching up and damaging the signal flags.

The base of the prototype — roughly the width of a standing person — also has the unintended effect of hiding the pedestrian from view.

Partly, this is due to the crank’s being on the opposite side of the oncoming traffic, but Hurley said a slimmer profile would effectively put the would-be crosser in view.

Despite this apparent design flaw, a number of cars made hesitant stops as Hurley, who was standing next to the piece, described its shortcomings. He waved one car through, and a moment later another stopped. In fact, cars stopped even when Hurley was well away from the signal.

The location of “Stop!,” in a part of town where drivers expect to see pedestrians, Hurley said, is not ideal — one more detail to be ironed out. Though cars weren’t always as friendly toward pedestrians, he said.

“The whole idea of stopping for a pedestrian is a really new idea,” he said. “Up until recent years, the car was king.”

Pedestrians have clearly gained some ground, and Hurley said the change is coming at a time when the cost of electricity, from both a financial and an environmental standpoint, is becoming prohibitive.

“Stop!” is on view through Sept. 10. In the meantime, Hurley, who joked that he can’t cross the street without thinking of three business ideas, said he hopes to refine the concept and file a patent for the what he calls a “human-actuated, non-power signal.”