University City to be beautified

    The University City Community Association held a forum on Jan. 23 to discuss the Governor Drive Beautification Project, which calls for the enhancement of Governor Drive between Regents Road and Genesee Avenue by planting trees and creating landscaped medians.

    Jessica Horton

    Ideas came from both architects and residents alike.

    Architects from the firm Austin Veum Robbins Parshalle presented pictures of sculptures, paintings and other artworks to inspire ideas within the group of attendees. City Councilman Scott Peters (Dist. 1) was also present to start the discussion and introduce the team in charge of the project.

    “”People in this neighborhood are cohesive,”” Peters said. “”They want to create a sense of place at University City and feel better about where they live.””

    Peters has already allocated $50,000 from the city budget for the second phase of the project. He hopes to attract private sectors to volunteer labor and materials after the residents decide on what they want built. The budget for the entire project will depend on the plan that the community decides to implement.

    Mitchell Berner of Public Solutions, a public relations firm, also assured those present that by finding people who want to help the community, “”the project can be done”” with little cost to the government.

    Phase II also calls for widening the sidewalks and the medians for beautification. Enhancement for each portion of the median will vary because its size ranges from two feet to nine feet in width. Phase I consisted of placing 57 trees on Governor Drive with 100 more still to be planted.

    According to Peters, residents of University City were quick to express their desire to beautify University City. Community members pointed out problems with traffic, speeding and narrow sidewalks that barely accommodate the large number of students from the nearby schools on weekdays.

    Residents suggested a range of ideas from fountains with different lighting to murals and creative foliage. Various themes, including the multi-generational family, children and athletics were also proposed.

    “”There’s such a diversity of backgrounds and education in this neighborhood that a forum can bring consensus within the community,”” said UCCA Vice President and University City resident Hugh Pates.

    Many residents pointed out the city’s proximity to UCSD campus and wanted to incorporate a learning theme for the project. Others also cited several artworks from the Stuart Collection, which is at UCSD, as examples of what could be done to the median.

    “”University City goes with UCSD,”” said Patti Mocock, a long-time resident. “”We started out as a college-oriented city.””

    Director of the California Institute of Transportation Safety at San Diego Sheila Sarkar was also present to discuss issues that may be of concern to residents. She discussed the studies she has done through observation in the community and reminded those present of safety.

    “”Scale has to be sensitive to the neighborhood,”” Sarkar said. “”Whatever works with the community will enhance the area.””

    The architects and Peters encouraged residents to brainstorm about what represents the community and divided people at the meeting into smaller groups to discuss and create ideas. The focus of the night’s meeting was an area of Governor Drive between Mercer Court and Stadium Court.

    Landscape architect Steve Pomerenke also stressed the importance of participation.

    “”This is your project,”” he said. “”Let’s see what we can do.””

    After the small group discussions, several community members presented their ideas to the larger group for further dialogue. The architects also put together a list of all the residents’ various suggestions and asked them which ideas they liked best. Pomerenke and Robbins will then develop the ideas and check with city rules whether the plans can be done.

    Another community meeting will be held in March.

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