For 15 summers, visitors to St. Joseph have been greeted by whimsical statues at nearly ever corner of the city's downtown. That tradition is about to come to an end after a City Commission vote.

The program, officially known as St. Joseph Public Art was envisioned as a way to bring families to the city and invigorate the State Street shopping district. The city's marketing director now wonders publicly if the program has run its course.

Susan Solon, the city’s retiring marketing director who spearheaded the annual public art display, told city commissioners Monday that the attraction has served its purpose of attracting visitors and should probably be replaced.

Commissioners agreed to put the public art on a one-year hiatus while alternatives are considered....

When the project was first launched in 2004, 40 percent of downtown storefronts were vacant in the winter, and there were even vacancies during the summer, Solon said....

Today, downtown is “bustling,” Solon said, with some 60 events year-round. “We’ve come a long way.”

So there will be no public art in St Joe during 2019. The program cost the city $75,000 annually.

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