That’s the vision of the $7.1 million streetscape project awarded by the City Council this week. Bay Cities Paving and Grading of Concord will handle the bulk of the work, which will begin Nov. 1 and is expected to be completed by June, said Kwame Reed, redevelopment analyst for the city.
“The goal is to make the downtown feel like an outdoor living room,” said Reed. “We don’t want people to just come and go; we want them to stay and enjoy dinner, a movie, and maybe some live music.”
The project, which will be paid for with Redevelopment District money already in hand, was developed over the last few years with input from the public, the Chamber of Commerce and downtown merchants. Together with the new City Park and community center that are part of the civic center project currently under construction – and expected to be completed about the same time in mid-2011 – the hope is that the downtown area will continue to be Brentwood’s civic and social centerpiece.
Key to the project is the widening of the sidewalks, which will be accomplished by changing the current diagonal parking pattern along some streets to parallel parking. That will result in the loss of about 50 parking places, but Reed said parking surveys conducted at several times of the day showed that there were now at least 100 vacant parking places at all times on the streets and in the various existing downtown parking lots. Also, a 280-stall parking structure is being built next to the new community center as part of the civic center project.
Reed said the work will be phased, and only one side of any street will be under construction at a time. Parts of Oak, First and Chestnut streets will be limited to one-way traffic to allow vehicles and limited parking in all areas at all times during construction. Sidewalks will be poured in phases to provide customers continued access to stores and restaurants.
Some work will be done at night, Reed said, to further lessen the impact on traffic, businesses and the high school. Work will stop at 3:30 p.m. each Friday to allow for construction-free weekends of shopping and dining.
In addition to the wider sidewalks, highlights of the streetscape plan include:
The Art Gonzales Memorial Fountain. Made of black, polished concrete embedded with colorful bits of stone and glass, the fountain will resemble a half-sphere with a sheet of water cascading over the top and down its sides. The top will be inscribed with Brentwood’s “Heritage, Vision, Opportunity” motto arranged in a spiral pattern in stainless steel letters. Benches will provide seating next to the fountain, and a 3-D silhouette of Mount Diablo will keep visitors safe from traffic on First Street and feature bubbling water to enhance the ambience.
Second Street median. Second Street in front of Liberty High School will feature a palm-tree-lined median and wrought-iron fence, a remedy to the current safety problem posed by jaywalking high schoolers. Traffic signals will be added at Maple and Pine streets, and left turns into and out of the school will be eliminated.
Entry monuments. On Oak Street at Diablo Way (near La Costa restaurant), a representation of Mount Diablo and its foothills will stretch across Oak Street. Its sides will include a metal locator map identifying significant buildings in the downtown area, and decorative panels will present bits of Brentwood’s heritage – with the help of local residents.
The city is asking residents to contribute small pieces of hardware, perhaps hinges, padlocks or skeleton keys to the collage. “It will really bring the project close to home, and give it a real human feel,” said Reed. The panels are likely to be castings, but the original artwork will be on display in the new community center. Items used can’t be returned, he noted, but the history of the objects could be part of the community center display, and unused items will be returned.
On Second Street at Brentwood Boulevard, the entry monument will consist of a low wall bearing the words “Downtown Brentwood.” It will also feature a representation of Mount Diablo, which, like the depiction on Oak Street, will consist of layered peaks of the foothills in front of the mountain, each back-lit to create visual depth.
Lighting. Additional streetlights will be installed, acorn-style lights replacing the cobra-style lamps currently in use in some places. The popular tree lighting will be installed on the new trees – deciduous species that will not drop fruit or seed pods like the current trees – and highlight lighting will be spotted around the area on entry monuments and the fountain.
Reed said the contractors are being given some scheduling flexibility to allow for maximum efficiency and minimum impact, but that detailed timing information will be provided to merchants and residents as work in various areas is set to begin.
Ongoing reports on the project’s status, as well as an opportunity to provide comment, will be available on the project Web page, www.ci.brentwood.ca.us/streetscapes. More information or donations of material for the entry monument artwork can be arranged by e-mailing Reed at firstname.lastname@example.org.