A crosswalk art project is in the works on Central Avenue in Hollister, and an online survey is asking the public to weigh in on the plans.
The Central Avenue Proposed Implementation Plan Public Survey is available in English and Spanish. It’s aimed at getting responses from residents of the Villa Hermosa neighborhood on the west side of Hollister. The survey is available until April 23.
The survey includes an innovative proposal from City Engineer Danny Hillstock and contractor Kimley-Horn to include crosswalk art and medallions in strategic areas designed to calm traffic. In an effort to involve the community, the city invited the Calaveras PTO Collective and Hollister School District Superintendent Diego Ochoa to organize the art gathering aspect of the project.
“Traffic safety in Villa Hermosa is one challenge where both multigenerational and recent residents can agree,” Rosalinda Sanchez said at a March 13 meeting of community stakeholders. Sanchez is the Calaveras PTO president. “We need our children to be safe walking to and from school.”
Sanchez, a resident of Hollister for two years, is also the arts education program manager at the School of Arts and Culture at the Mexican Heritage Plaza in San Jose. She and her family live adjacent to Central Avenue almost directly behind Calaveras Elementary School. With the support of her family, Rosalinda created a bilingual video to explain the project and request art from the community. (English video here, Spanish video here)
“Forty-one percent of Hollister speaks Spanish, therefore a bilingual message assures equity and inclusion of all of Villa Hermosa’s residents’ participation in the student art/traffic-calming project,” Sanchez said, adding that crosswalk and neighborhood art in cities such as San Francisco, San Jose and Seattle works to calm aggressive drivers.
“I’m excited because the project is a community unifier,” Sanchez said.
Sanchez and others involved with the crosswalk art project contracted E. Venecia Prudencio, a Hollister native and Gavilan College student, who will use artwork submitted by community members as inspiration for the final designs that will be proposed to the Hollister City Council.
“It’s a humbling position for me to be able to give back to the neighborhood in which I grew up,” Prudencio said. “To know that kids will be seeing my work regularly and now associate something so familiar to them with something beautiful and creative means so much to me.”
Days after the meeting, San Benito County issued its shelter-in-place order to tackle the spread of COVID-19.
“All in-person public outreach and gatherings had to be postponed,” Hillstock said. “However, our online survey is going ahead, where the public can participate and the data will be presented in a report to the council. In addition, the report is postponed because of COVID-19. It is anticipated that the meeting and findings will take about one month to complete, after which time the findings will be incorporated in the report and submitted to the City Council, in July or August.”
Hillstock added that flyers about the survey will be dropped in mailboxes along Central Avenue using COVID-19 safe practices.
To submit art to be considered for the crosswalk project, take a picture of the artwork and send it to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Patty Lopez Day is vice president of the Calaveras PTO Collective.