By Sinclaire Sparkman
Streetscapes in Mt. Juliet recently received an artsy twist thanks to a project by the city to beautify metal control boxes.
The boxes house electrical components, water system controls and various mechanical devices that are essential to the function of buildings, traffic lights and businesses. The city came up with the box wraps as part of a community beautification project, and they are not meant for marketing purposes. Funding for the wraps came from sponsors, and they may get their logo placed on the box, but the overall picture portrays themes of community wellness and quality of life.
“A lot of times they just become industrial metal boxes sitting all over the place, but if you wrap them in art or make them more scenic, they blend in and become part of the streetscape,” said Kenny Martin, city manager for Mt. Juliet.
The wraps are made of vinyl, which also serves to keep the boxes cool during hot weather. Martin said part of the effort is to also keep graffiti from the boxes.
The city uses Advance Signs in Lebanon to create the wraps, since there is no vinyl wrap company in Mt. Juliet and they wanted to keep the job local.
Many of the wraps have appeared at traffic lights along Mt. Juliet Road, and the library is home to a wrap as well. Charlie Daniels appears on a box at the traffic light just outside of Charlie Daniels Park. A box near Providence Marketplace displays school logos in Wilson County, including Lebanon and Watertown high schools.
Martin said it is not dangerous to go near or touch the boxes, and they are locked so no one can get inside. They are government property, and tampering with or vandalizing the boxes could lead to prosecution.
“You can take pictures with them if you want, and the only folks that have keys are the ones who run the maintenance on them,” Martin said.
Possibilities for future wraps can be seen all over the city, including along greenways, on street corners and beside businesses.
“We really appreciate all the individuals and businesses that have stepped up and made it much more popular than what we thought,” Martin said. “The sincere intent of the program is to enhance the community and make it more beautiful.”