By Richard Sullins |

Broadway’s town commissioners got their first look on October 23 at what will become the town’s first commissioned piece of public art.

Bobby and Dawn Sharpe, owners of Pop Heaven Gourmet Popcorn and Sweet Shop on South Main Street, brought a scale rendering of what the art will look like when completed in the spring of 2024.

To be drawn along their building’s north wall, the mural will depict a series of hot air balloons drifting across blue skies on a warm summer’s day, including a three-dimensional wire basket where visitors can stand for pictures, creating an illusion of floating along the clouds with the word “Broadway” just to the left. The work will be painted by artist Christine Dalton.

Sanford has a wide range of murals within the downtown central business district, all aimed at telling a portion of the city’s rich history. The Pop Heaven art will have a different purpose, that of celebrating the life and carefree spirit of freedom that living in Broadway has come to embody. Liz Whitmore, Historic Preservation planner with the City of Sanford and leader of its public art program, has provided consulting help to the Sharpes in planning the how the mural will look.

A rendering of Broadway’s first public art mural is displayed at the town board’s Oct. 23 meeting. Photo by Kirk Smith.

The cost for the mural is estimated to be about $17,000. Similar projects in Sanford have been paid for by grants that are sometimes available through public or private sources, by funds provided by the owners of the business, or through donations made by the public.

The Sharpes told commissioners they hadn’t come to the meeting to ask for a contribution, but rather to keep them informed about their plans since the mural will be seen by anyone going down South Main Street.

But Bobby Sharpe added “we’d welcome support from anyone who wants to help with the cost.”

Food truck park ordinance adopted

The commissioners voted 3-1 in favor of an amendment to the Unified Development Ordinance to allow food truck parks to be held in the commercial district that runs along the town’s Main Street corridor. Lee County and Sanford have previously adopted the amendment, meaning that it now goes into effect across the entire county.

The change in the wording of the UDO began last October when city planners presented a draft ordinance to restrict the use of any commercial space to one food truck at a time. Shannon Suggs of Sanford requested the following month that the city council expand that draft to allow up to three trucks at once, and a series of proposals went back and forth for several months afterwards.

Mayor Pro Tem Tommy Beal spoke in favor of adopting the amendment but moved that its verbiage to allow “beer gardens” be removed, saying that absent Commissioner Jim Paschal agreed.

“I don’t want Broadway to be known that way. That’s mine and Jimmy’s personal opinion,” he said.

Beer gardens are often described as outdoor enclosed areas where beer can be served.

David Montgomery, Senior Planner with the City of Sanford and who was present at the meeting, told the commissioners that there has been almost no interest so far in holding “food truck rodeos,” with only one request received by the city and none elsewhere in the county. Beal’s motion to approve the amendment but to also remove the wording to allow beer gardens failed on a 1-3 vote, and a motion from Commissioner Teresa Kelly to approve the text as presented was adopted on a 3-1 vote, with Beal voting against.

The board also reluctantly approved a rezoning request for a tract of land along North Main Street from Residential R-20 to Commercial C-1 to allow for the construction of a discount variety store. Members had no qualms with the request’s compliance with existing zoning regulations but did take issue with the location of another dollar store in town about 500 feet from an existing Dollar General.

The commissioners had held a public hearing on the rezoning request in September, but the nature of the commercial interest was not divulged at that time. There seemed no reason to deny it on legal grounds Monday night, but the board’s sentiment was expressed by Mayor Donald Andrews just before the vote was taken.

“This doesn’t seem to meet a need that we are not already serving,” he said.

Although a date has yet to be finalized, the town’s annual Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony to celebrate the start of the holiday season takes place each year during the first week in December and commissioners will hear details about it at their next meeting scheduled for November 27.