Oak leaf bus stop gets fix-up

WINDOM — Say goodbye to the sight of bubbled-up paint and lime-green chips covering the ground alongside the Cub Foods at Nicollet Avenue & 59th Street. The oak leaf-shaped bus stop is getting a makeover.

Built in 1997 to offset the grocery store’s bland exterior, the sculpture had deteriorated to the point that it had become its own eyesore. Neighborhood residents were irked to find it simply ignored, and the Windom Community Council sent a letter to the city requesting assistance. Gale Running, the property’s owner, meanwhile had no clue about the bus stop’s condition.

It wasn’t until a Southwest Journal reporter asked Running in early July about the sculpture’s condition that he went and looked at it himself. Upon first hearing of the damage, he said he might have to remove the sculpture. But finding that it was getting use, he said he wanted to get it fixed up instead.

Two months later, that’s what he’s done.

During the week of Aug. 18, work crews began sandblasting the leaf to remove all of the structure’s paint. Running said new primer would be put on, followed by new powdercoating.

The leaf-shaped benches, which were in visibly worse condition than the sculpture itself, were ground down to prepare for a type of paint Running said would be more appropriate for this kind of project than what was used before.

“It holds to metal much better,” he said. “I think it’ll look good.”

Mary Petersen, a member of the Windom Community Council, said she’d been hearing recently that another business owner was showing interest in purchasing the leaf. That was before Petersen was told the leaf was getting repaired.

“I’m glad to hear it,” she said. “That’s good news.”

Running said the entire process would take about three weeks. So far, he and Cub Foods have footed the bill, although an anonymous donor has contacted him to help out. Running also said he’d try to keep a closer eye on the sculpture from this point on.

“We let it slip away, and we learned our lesson,” Running said. “Hopefully we’ll take care of it and make the neighborhood happy.”