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Banner project highlights and brightens downtown Lynn

New banners hang from the lighting around Lynn Common. (Spenser R. Hasak)

LYNN — Since the spring, residents may have noticed colorful banners attached to antique-style lighting in three different areas of the city. The banner installation is part of a project intended to highlight Lynn and brighten up the downtown.

The third phase of the project was completed in the past couple of weeks, with about 12 banners depicting the Lynn Common bandstand installed around the small Common, according to James Marsh, community development director.

“It’s all about brightening the downtown and highlighting the work we’ve done in different areas,” Marsh said. “It highlights Lynn (and) highlights the local artists.”

More than 20 banners were installed around the downtown in March, which was meant to be all-encompassing of everything in the city’s cultural district, and 18 banners were placed around Market Basket three weeks ago with big, bold and vibrant designs.

The project is an initiative of the city’s Community Development Department and Downtown Lynn Cultural District, along with the Public Arts Commission. Marsh said the city spent “a couple thousand dollars” on the banners through a Community Development Block grant.

Carolyn Cole, director of the Downtown Lynn Cultural District, said Marsh approached her and relayed that the city had replaced cobra head-style light posts with antique-style lighting in certain areas and that some new banners to go on them were needed.

Cole put out a Request for Proposals for each stage of the project for local artists to submit designs and three artists were selected.

Lynn Common is in the midst of a facelift, with more than $3 million in grants and matching city funds devoted to the total rehabilitation of the park area.

Market Basket opened last year on Federal Street. The $30 million project included the company also paying $2 million for infrastructure improvements, aimed at improving access around the new Market Basket. Some of the improvements included putting a rotary at Magrane Square.

Marsh said the antique-style lighting installation at the Lynn Common was paid for by a Parkland Acquisitions and Renovations for Communities (PARC) grant, as part of the rehabilitation project and antique lighting at Market Basket was paid for by the company.

The city spent more than $200,000 to replace the cobra head-style lighting with antique lighting in the downtown, through the Community Development Block Grant program, Marsh said.

As the city looks to get more grants and do work to replace more cobra head lighting, more banners will be installed in the city. Washington Street is being looked at for new lighting. The next phase is to redo the existing Lynn Auditorium banners on Market Street, Marsh said.

In the downtown, Marsh said the banners highlight the cultural district. Chosen for that project was Lynn artist, Jennifer Adler, owner of Survival By Design.

“I am a downtown Lynn resident so I live in the cultural district and I’m also a business owner,” Adler said. “My office is in downtown Lynn as well. What I do for a living is graphic design. When I saw there was a call for artists to submit some ideas for the Downtown Lynn Cultural District, it was a natural fit and I was very excited to submit some artwork.”

Adler said the banners are important for wayfinding purposes, so people know where they are in certain areas of the city. She said it’s also important in an urban setting for people to take pride in where they live.

“(When people) see banners up, it kind of shows we’re here, we care about where we live. Don’t make less of our area,” she said.

Emily Dumas, of Beverly, and Elissa von Letkemann, of Salem and Maine, designed the banners for Market Basket and Lynn Common respectively.

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