Some Burns Square business owners questioning Chalk Festival decisions

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SARASOTA - It has been about a month since the successful Sarasota Chalk Festival wrapped up in Sarasota's Historic Burns Square. But now, some business owners are expressing concerns and frustrations over what's happening in the area now.

A group of business owners from the Square plan to meet with Sarasota City Manager Tom Barwin this week. They are upset that the street still has remnants of the artwork on it, and some props from the Festival, like two model elephants, still remain standing in the neighborhood.

"It just doesn't seem that anyone knows what to do afterwards," said Sharon Katzman, the owner of IOptics. "I think this has been a problem every year, that we are left to deal with the after effects of thousands of people in our little neighborhood."

Denise Kowal, the President of the Festival says she has permission from the city to keep the street art up until December 6th, which is one month after the Festival concluded.

It may be other artwork, however, that have some scratching their heads. In the weeks following the Festival, some of the Festival artists have painted graphic murals on buildings in Burns Square.

"I would not be upset if I did not think it took away from the charm," said Marnie Matarese, who works in Burns Square. "As we walked the neighborhood and began to look at other pieces of art, we felt this was not really a good thing for this neighborhood."

To see two of the paintings, view the pictures above.

Kowal says she got permission from each building's owner to have an artist paint the murals. She says at no time has anyone approached her to discuss their concerns about the Festival or the murals.

"The people complaining have never made one attempt to come to us and discuss the issue. It's hard for me to deal with an issue when I have people not willing to open up a dialog," said Kowal.

Barwin says he will meet with Kowal in the days following his meeting with business owners.