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Lakeside Underpass

December 19, 2008

We are applying for a neighborhood improvement grant. The application went in this afternoon at the 11th hour. Thanks to Joan and Laurie for your invaluable inputs and editing help! and thanks to all of you who are offering help when the time comes for painting.

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Click on image for enlargement

The train and bike path underpass serves as a gateway to our neighborhood. It has certainly seen better days. Most of the concrete retaining walls and supporting structures have crumbling surfaces. It is becoming a popular site for fledgling graffiti writers. The surrounding landscaping– all four corners– is doleful and dreary. The overall impression is one of neglect.

The general idea is to repair the concrete walls– eventually all four of them: two at the sidewalk level, and two at the street level. After consultation with the city structural engineer and the asst. director of streets, we had a meeting with a Wright and Morrissey rep for an estimate. The concrete repairs in total are going to be a bit more involved and costly (in the neighborhood of $65K) than this grant can accommodate (maximum $15K). Taking all advice under consideration, the best direction in which to proceed is to select a segment of the entire project to do for this year. The upper wall  along the sidewalk on the north side of Lakeside Ave makes the most sense for this year’s focus and grant applicatation. It seems pretty likely that the city will try to find the funds to work on the lower two walls,  now that the actual state they are in is on their radar in a more  concrete way. And the sidewalk-level wall on the south side can be a project for the future, especially if we do well on our 2009 effort.

The majority of the grant money requested will be used for the concrete work. Even for the upper walls, which don’t appear to be nearly as degraded as the lower, the area needing attention is extensive and the processes are technical. Before the work commences the city will be having an inspection and report by an independent structural engineer, the cost for which is build into the grant.

In addition to the concrete wall repairs, we also hope to provide some landscaping amendments to the land on each side of the underpass. In particular, along the south side under the bridges at side walk level there is a virtual jungle of growth. We are not opposed to jungles, but in its current state, the area looks abandoned and is impassable. On the north west side, we would hope to plant two trees that would be tall growers, because the area is extremely hot and unpleasant in the summer.

The walls are a perfect space for a mural, or murals, and there is research supporting the claim that graffiti writers will not tag walls that are painted with images nearly as often as they will tag blank walls. Mural painting is also a perfect opportunity to have some fun, and do some community building. We hope to draw many residents into the process so that it is a truly collaborative effort, and to “let a thousand flowers bloom.”

Included in the grant application is a request paint and brushes, and also for an anti-graffiti finishing coat material. I have no idea what that is, or if we want to use it, but figured that since the street dept director mentioned using it, it would be wise to give it a whirl.

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