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A would-be mural in a pedestrian tunnel at Lake Beresford Park west of DeLand has caught the ire of county officials, resulting in the art piece being painted over.

An unknown artist recently painted the mural — abstract, but perhaps inspired by marine life of some sort — in the tunnel pedestrians and cyclists walk through to access the trails at the park.

A CSX rail line runs over the tunnel.

A concerned citizen, Judy Matheson, said many trail users enjoyed the artwork and were upset about its removal.

She said a small group of people at the park — “14 people that didn’t know each other that were mildly upset about the pending paintover,” Matheson said — spoke with a supervisor of the painting crew at the county park. The conversation was cordial, she said.

“We walked on, and came back by in time to see most of it gone,” Matheson said.

The mural was, at a minimum, “a conversation starter,” she added. Interpretations of the art can vary, but the mural vaguely resembled some sort of tentacled creature.

The park, which is run by Volusia County, is a popular spot for walkers and cyclists alike, and a prominent stop on the Spring-to-Spring Trail.

Volusia County spokesman Kevin Captain acknowledged the situation.

“A mural was recently painted in the pedestrian tunnel at Lake Beresford Park,” he said. “Unfortunately, this activity was not authorized.”

Captain said the county isn’t opposed to artwork in public places, but said such public art must be authorized through a process before public property can be painted.

It’s a matter of fairness, in part, he said.

“The County is not necessarily opposed to exploring options for the application of artwork,” Captain explained. “However, if deemed appropriate, it would be necessary for the County to administer such options by way of a formal solicitation process in which all artists are granted equal opportunity to submit their proposal.”

“Meanwhile, the county cannot permit unauthorized painting on public assets,” he added.

THE TUNNEL — The freshly-repainted pedestrian tunnel at Lake Beresford Park west of DeLand on Monday.

As of Monday, the mural had been fully painted over with off-white paint.

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