On June 8th at 6:30pm community members from the Central City, Broadmoor, and Milan neighborhoods gathered at the Second Zion Baptist Church #1 to participate in the South Claiborne Avenue Streetscape Open House.
The purpose of the meeting (as stated by the Department of Public Works) was to provide an: "Open house to view the schematic design of upcoming streetscape enhancements."
The meeting began with a welcome by Lavon Wright representing the Office of Recovery and Development Administration followed by an introduction from Robert Mendoza (Department of Public Works).
The City selected All South Consulting Engineers, LLC to design the streetscape improvements. Their presentation of the schematic designs lasted about five minutes. The design included improvements on the South Claiborne neutral ground between Napoleon and MLK.
The designer presented a neutral ground refurbished with a perimeter of oak trees, light posts resembling those on canal street (with banners), benches, trash receptacles, and sidewalk "bump outs."
In addition to the above improvements, the presentation included two options that residents were to choose from:
1) Option A - A path in Neutral Ground from Washington Avenue to Jackson Avenue
2) Option B - Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Extension (in lieu of walking path)
After the presentation, Robert Mendoza gave the floor to the audience for questions. Residents were very critical of the brief presentation. The main critiques and questions were as follows:
- The necessity of ground lighting in the Neutral Ground -- residents were concerned that the streetlights would be inadequate to light Neutral Ground pathways and feared that the area would be unsafe.
- What plant species will be included in the Neutral Ground? -- residents requested that neutral ground species support wildlife.
- Can the Department of Public Works support a statue of Martin Luther King instead of a memorial?
- Can someone do something about the plastic signs littering electrical posts? -- Residents noted the eyesore and blight that the plastic signs caused and questioned why the City did not include their removal in the streetscape design.
- Why is the streetscape project just on the nuetral ground? A community input strategy distributed February 12th requested sidewalk improvements, bike baths, crosswalks, and bus shelters. These items were excluded from the streetscape design and residents requested to know why.
Residents are encouraged to submit comments. Comments will be reviewed and a follow up meeting will be scheduled with modifications.