Nature center pursues mural and a cabin, too

Published 12:00 am Sunday, February 11, 2001

If all goes according to plan, art and history will come to the J.

Sunday, February 11, 2001

If all goes according to plan, art and history will come to the J.C. Hormel Nature Center in the near future.

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The outside will visit the inside at the nature center, when a mural depicting an oak savanna replaces a geological mural painted in 1975 that currently decorates a wall inside the facility’s Interpretive Building.

"The mural will include prairie chickens, buffalo, elk" and prairie grasses and wildflowers, the nature center’s Larry Dolphin said Thursday at a meeting of the Austin Park, Recreation and Forestry Board.

Jim Krom, an artist who previously painted a mural at the Quarry Hill Nature Center in Rochester, will be paid $2,500 for his work on the mural. Another $500 will pay for the relocation of a thermostat and in-kind labor.

The mural will be paid for with a $3,000 partnership grant – with 50 percent coming from the state and the other 50 percent from the donations, including some from the Friends of the Nature Center.

When the funding is secured, Dolphin will return to the board for final approval of the project.

In other nature center business, where the 134-year-old cabin at the Mower County Fairgrounds once was one of a kind, now it appears the center will build a second cabin in its image. The nature center was one of two groups that bid for the aged cabin before the Mower County Historical Society board awarded it to the Root River Antique Historical Power Association.

"We could use the cabin for pioneer crafts in the summer and storytelling," Dolphin said. An anonymous donor would provide $6,000 to $7,000 for the construction of a 10- or 12-by-14-foot structure, he added.

The board approved the pursuit of the cabin construction with only one board member – Gary Quednow – dissenting. Quednow said current nature center utility and maintenance costs for the buildings within the property should be addressed before further improvements to the facility are discussed.

In related city business, the Airport, Trails and Railroad Committee of the Austin City Council decided last week to pursue the 12th Avenue trail corridor.

Citing it as a critical link in Austin’s trail system, City Administrator Pat McGarvey and City Engineer Jon Erichson said the city staff will look into moving forward to secure land.