Tim Huff was tired of looking at the gray cement column that holds up Interstate 375 above the Kenwood Dog Park in St. Petersburg. He brings his Lab-pit mix Toby to the park weeknights to meet up with a group of fellow dog owners.
“It was an eyesore that needed to be decorated," Huff said. “I thought, ‘This calls for a mural.’”
Huff is a decorator and has a custom window treatment business, Vintage Interiors. So it makes sense that he would have an instinct to beautify his surroundings.
But this was in August 2018.
Huff started by reaching out to the St. Petersburg Arts Alliance, which told him he needed to raise money to pay for the mural. He started a GoFundMe account, and rather quickly raised $1,500.
Then, he had to get approval from the Florida Department of Transportation, because the structure belongs to them. That took a year, Huff said.
Then, the Kenwood Neighborhood Association caught wind of the project and wanted to be involved.
By that point, Huff had tapped artist Derek Donnelly to paint the mural. So the two of them had to meet with the neighborhood association to get approval.
The last step was to get the St. Petersburg City Council’s approval, which they did a few weeks ago.
“I thought raising the money was going to be the hardest part, but no, that was the easiest part," Huff said. "It was all these other hoops that I had to go through to get this done.”
He also said he felt guilty about having all that donated money tied up for so long.
On May 15, he took the check and gave it to Donnelly, who got started on the dog-themed mural. Part of the mural features an image of Donnelly’s own dog, a pit bull mix named Lov.
Huff said his fellow dog park friends were excited when Donnelly started the mural, not just because there would be one, but because they know how hard Huff worked to make it a reality.
Donnelly finished the mural, which wraps around the 14 foot tall column, on May 23.
He said that Huff was a treat to work with.
“Tim’s a good example of a citizen who wants to see some cool stuff around town and gets it done,” he said.
IF YOU GO
Kenwood Dog Park is at 401 20th St. N, St. Petersburg.