Our Town Belfast will solicit designs from local artists to decorate five downtown crosswalks. City councilors voted to approve the idea Jan. 19.

Designs on three Main Street crosswalks, one Federal Street crosswalk and one Cross Street crosswalk will create increased visibility and increased interest for people visiting downtown, City Manager Erin Herbig said. The crosswalks were chosen based on their proximity to parking and visible points where people frequently visit, Our Town Belfast Director Zach Schmesser said.

The theme, As Unique As Belfast, was chosen to highlight the ways Belfast is different from other municipalities. Our Town Belfast received a $5,000 Maine Expansion Arts Fund Grant for the project from Maine Community Foundation.

The foundation works with donors to fund projects that align with its mission of improving the quality of Maine residents’ lives. It focuses on improving racial equality and access to education, expanding early childhood developmental initiatives, and offering assistance to older people, entrepreneurs and innovators.

Belfast is one of 10 Main Street Communities in Maine and 2,200 across the country participating in the National Main Street program meant to boost vitality in downtown districts, according to Schmesser.

It is not the first time a group has decorated downtown crosswalks. In 2017, the Pedestrian, Biking and Hiking Committee painted chicken feet across two downtown crosswalks.

Our Town Belfast will seek proposals from five different local artists for designs to be approved by a selection committee, Herbig said. Councilor Brenda Bonneville volunteered to be the council representative because of her background in working with art foundations and publications.

Councilor Neal Harkness said he was concerned that a design might violate crosswalk safety precautions, so he wanted the group to include Police Chief Gerry Lincoln in the final design decision. Schmesser agreed to consult the chief along with Public Works Director Bob Richards, with whom he had already spoken about the project.

Councilor Mike Hurley was also concerned that ordinary crosswalk paint would not last more than a few months, and urged them to consider vinyl applications that last longer.

Schmesser hopes to get the designs installed by spring, after the city sweeps streets, he said. For more information, inquiries can be sent to info@ourtownbelfast.org.