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Pictured is the fence which currently surrounds the racquetball court mural at Martin Luther King Jr. Park. (Emil Whitis Photo)

BY EMIL WHITIS
Daily Press Staff Writer

Controversy surrounding a recently renovated mural on the north and west sides of the Martin Luther King Jr. Park racquetball court was put to bed during Tuesday night’s meeting of the Artesia City Council.

The council had considered relocating the structure to a different position in the park, along with other possibilities, for approximately two years, said City Clerk Aubrey Hobson. The racquetball court was further discussed at a city council retreat held in July and the proposition to move the structure found many proponents.

When they caught wind of the proposal, many Artesians — including the painter of the mural, Noel Marquez — voiced concerns that the artwork would be damaged were the structure to be moved.

“We felt threatened,” said Marquez. “To us, moving (the mural) was destroying the mural … because once you move something like that you’re going to damage it.”

Artesia Mayor Phillip Burch said he believes a misunderstanding existed between the artist and the city of Artesia with regard to the city’s intentions.

“The condition of the racquetball court has been discussed for a couple of years (at city council),” said Burch. “(Nothing discussed among city council members) has ever indicated that there was a desire to destroy the artwork of Mr. Marquez.” … For the rest of the story, subscribe in print and on the web.