The proposal is to paint the crosswalks at five intersections - each one will have its own color scheme and design which the community came up with in community workshops. The thought is that by painting these crosswalks it will create a vibrant and inviting look to the streets which will then lead to a chain reaction of ongoing community projects.
Cornelia Dohse-Peck is the project manager and has lived in the area since 1993. After speaking with her it is obvious that she has a passion for making the West Side a friendlier place to live. She began getting involved with beautification and community projects through her involvement with her first mural project (Underground Railroad - 1999) and more projects and murals soon followed.
The idea for art on Grant Street came about when Dohse-Peck and some of her fellow artists were discussing public art for the street. After some collaboration, the idea to paint the crosswalks was born and a proposal was written for approval. The goal in mind was to give the street a unique look that would showcase the area's diversity and attract businesses and residents into the neighborhood.
I was also informed of another deeper meaning to the art...
"We also believe that an orderly looking and beautiful street sends the message that residents care. That real or perceived care makes criminals leery of being watched so they end up moving their criminal operations somewhere else, usually into areas which look and feel blighted," Dohse-Peck said. "A beautiful street also sends the psychological message of a feeling of safety. So one thing will lead to another and good things will happen."
Along with community organizer Shannon Callan and advisory board member Chuck Massey, Dohse Peck submitted the proposal for approval. The photos are the collaborative work of photographer Timothy Chen and graphic designer Jonathon Furman, which show the projected look of the Auburn/Grant intersection.
Another hope is that the painting of these crosswalks becomes an annual community event so that the community will take responsibility in maintaining the integrity of the intersections. On top of all this, various community groups such as Massachusetts Avenue Project, Concerned Ecumenical Ministries, D'Youville's Upward Bound Program, FLY and others have all worked together on this project.
However, there is one problem that still remains; the project hasn't been approved by City officials yet. Apparently there is a laundry list of reasons that this project hasn't been given the green light. According to Dohse-Peck there is no process in place to approve a public art project in the city. Another reason is that Buffalo's Department of Public Work's Commissioner, Steve Stepniak, is looking into the safety for the traffic, which seems reasonable.
Whatever the myriad reasons are, I believe that this project should be approved, especially if the aforementioned groups continue to work with The City to resolve the problematic issues. It will add a sense of confidence to the area and shows that the community members do care. After waiting one and a half years, Dohse-Peck is holding her always present optimism.
"We bought the materials ourselves, we have many volunteers ready to help. We're hoping that this will be the approved design for the pilot intersection, as we diligently supplied the ordinances/policy that other cities use to make a project like this happen," Dohse-Peck said.
All that is left is for The City to give the thumbs-up on the project.
For more information on the project you can contact Dohse-Peck at 716-474-6485 or by e-mail at artstudioDP@peoplepc.com. You can also visit Facebook to connect with the project.