By Collin Brooks
Some residents who live in the historic Tree Street Neighborhood are hoping to keep their unique ways as they look for alternative methods to slow down traffic through their neighborhood.
The neighborhood currently has speed bumps, roundabouts and narrowing roads in order to detour speeding through the roads, but residents hope they will turn to a colorful and unique alternative.
The project is still in its infancy and would need approval by the Johnson City commission before any painting could begin. But the hope for the project is that the bright street art will grab the attention of drivers and help them slow down and realize the urban landscape they are driving through.
“Speed bumps are great devices, but they have to be placed in the right location and they do make a sound when people go over them, so sometimes neighbors don’t want them right in front of their house,” Lee said. “The mural is something that, studies have shown that they do slow traffic and it is something beautiful that we can use that will represent our neighborhood.”
The group developed the idea from a neighborhood in Seattle, Wash., called Green Lake. A resident of the Tree Streets has family that lives in the neighborhood and the catchy and colorful dragon fly that is painted on the ground stretches across an intersection. In the Tree Streets, they would like to have something that includes a tree.
In Seattle, the city offers funding for the projects through a matching fund program, but they need approval from the Traffic Operations Division.
Johnson City Public Work Director Phil Pindzola said that he thought it was a neat idea and he liked it, but there were still many things that would need to be approved before the project could be started.
“I like the concept,” Pindzola wrote in an e-mail to The News & Neighbor. “But it is illegal to mark city streets — other than by city staff for traffic control — under any circumstance. We discussed different ideas, but at the end of the day she needed to send us a proposal for consideration. After vetting the proposal internally, we would forward our findings to the city commission for consideration.”
As of last Friday, Jan. 27, the city has not received a proposal.
The exact location has not yet been set, but Lee said that she hopes to work with the city to identify the perfect location.
“Our thoughts were that because Walnut Street is developing and it is going to happen quickly once the Mill renovation progresses, but we thought that it might be most beneficial off one of the streets that comes off of Walnut,” Lee said. “Because we know that the traffic will be increased in the neighborhood.”
Lee loaded the project idea to a GoFund me page a couple of weeks ago and in the first four days they were able to raise just over $600 and the project received over 350 shares through social media platforms.
“This project has been very well received by everyone that we have spoken with,” Lee said. “We are surprised at how much money was donated so quickly… and we haven’t heard from any detractors.”
They plan on reopening the GoFundMe Page to try and push the idea more, once they meet with the city in the next couple of months.
The ultimate plan would be to have a large tree as the center piece of the design and the neighborhood may be able to assist with the paint, similar to a paint-by-numbers, according to Lee.
She also added that the group would like to start painting during the summer months.