Ellsworth is getting two rainbow-colored crosswalks at its local schools this week, and might get a dash of added color downtown, despite the City Council’s decision last month not to allow downtown crosswalks to be painted as a show of support for the LGBTQ community.
Carrie Kutny, the faculty adviser to an Ellsworth High School student group that is painting the school crosswalks, said that a group of LGBTQ supporters in Orono is looking to lend some rainbow-colored animal sculptures to downtown Ellsworth businesses and organizations. The wooden sculptures of a giraffe, ostrich, zebra and other animals would be displayed on private property downtown as a sign that Ellsworth is a welcoming place for people who do not conform to traditional concepts of gender and sexual orientation, she said.
The Ellsworth School Department voted last month to allow the school crosswalks to be repainted in Pride colors, and Kutny said the school’s student Gender Sexuality Diversity Alliance and its supporters still hope the council will reconsider its position on the downtown crosswalks.
Despite voting 3-3 last month on the downtown crosswalk proposal, which failed without a majority vote, the council voted unanimously in support of creating a committee to look into safety aspects of painting the crosswalks in bright colors. The committee, which the council has not yet created, would consider who should do the painting, what time of day the work should happen and whether the bright colors might distract drivers, among other things.
Dale Hamilton, chairman of the City Council, said that he expects the council will consider a more formal proposal to create a crosswalk safety committee at its October meeting.
On Thursday, members and supporters of the high school group repainted a faded crosswalk at the high school, putting a fresh coat of white paint over the faded stripes and then filling in the blank rectangles with bright shades of pink, blue, orange, yellow, purple, red and green. Kutny said that they were planning to repaint a crosswalk at Ellsworth Elementary Middle School either later Thursday or Friday.
The supplies for the project are being paid for by donations from Healthy Acadia, Heart of Ellsworth, and Fogtown Brewing Co. co-owner Jon Stein, according to the group.
Kutny said that even without rainbow-colored crosswalks downtown, the anticipated rainbow animal sculptures and Pride flags that already have been put on display downtown show that the student group has broad support in the community. And she hopes that the work of the safety committee will change the minds of members of the council who voted against the downtown crosswalk proposal in August.
“All we need is to flip one vote, and I think we can do it,” Kutny said. “We’re going to keep trying.”