Shawnee Co. Parks and Recreation and Tonantzin Society partner to plan a mural at Santa Fe Park

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) – Santa Fe Park will soon be the site of a beautification project.

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A restroom at Santa Fe Park which was the target of vandalism in Summer 2020 will soon be the site of a new mural.

Shawnee Co. Parks and Recreation was approached by the Tonantzin Society with interest to have local artists paint a mural on the park restroom.

It comes after the building was the target of vandalism earlier in the summer.

At their Monday meeting, Shawnee Co. Commissioners approved of a request to allow Parks and Rec to use $1,500 from their operating budget for supplies and materials artists can use to paint the mural.

Commissioner Aaron Mays said he is pleased to see the community offer their talents

“Really wanna just point out the fact that this is community members coming together to turn something very ugly into something beautiful in the neighborhood it’s really good to see that,” he said.

Mike McLaughlin, Parks and Rec’s Communications and Public Information Supervisor said the project has added meaning because the idea came from residents.

“That’s a great, positive response to something negative that happened that we’d like to put behind us it’s the kind of thing where if you respond to negative with positive you just lift the community,” he said.

“We love it when people take some responsibility for their own parks and make them nice and keep them nice and this is a way for this community to say, ‘hey we care about our parks no matter what somebody else does’.”

McLaughlin said he’s seen what power of art can do for a community.

“Anytime that people in the neighborhood take responsibility of the neighborhood parks, it’s a good thing they keep it up nicer they keep it cleaner, they take care of it,” he said.

“They show the rest of the community that this is ours, this is our neighborhood we care about it and it instills a sense of pride and it brings some celebration here at a time in our lives when we can use some celebration.”

He said areas with murals have been less prone to graffiti.

“Most of the time when somebody comes along and paints nice artwork it stays there people have respect for it they respect the effort and appreciate it they don’t come along and paint graffiti over top of it again it’s something that’ll be nice to celebrate and something we think will stay around for a long time.”

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