Tuesday, October 23, 2018
Transportation

South Seminole Heights neighborhood hopes street mural brings calm to the road

TAMPA

A "mandala" is a spiritual symbol in Hinduism and Buddhism representing a microcosm of the universe. In various spiritual traditions, mandalas help establish a sacred space.

Perfect.

Now, on the corner of N River Boulevard and W Louisiana Avenue in the heart of Seminole Heights, there is a bright 28-foot wide, orange, blue, red and yellow mandala painted on the road.

See it as you speed around the corner in your car?

Slow down.

Yeah, there it is.

Nice and easy.

Mission accomplished.

The idea for this mandala — believed to be the first of its kind in Tampa — was born a few years ago from several hearts, souls, ideas, needs and wants.

Perhaps more than anything, the neighborhood wanted cars to slow down, because kids are running around the area since there is a community park next door.

Yelling. "Kids at Play" signs. Slow-down signs. Nothing seemed to deter the speeders.

Local folks started Googling what other cities had done to solve such troubles: Seattle, Portland, Boulder.

It turns out that street murals in those cities, sometimes featuring mandalas, appeared to make drivers ease off the accelerator.

Less accidents. More safety. Less stress.

The other upside was that the works of art were cool, and were often a point of pride because the neighborhood kids and parents often participated in the art's creation.

Enter Tampa City Councilman Mike Suarez and South Seminole Heights Civic Association president Stephen Lytle. Together they pushed a proposal through the bureaucracy, spearheaded fundraising and grant opportunities, got approval for the area's smooth road smoothing and resurfacing, held meetings to vote on entries from local artists, and …

Suddenly they had a design and an artist: St. Petersburg's Catherine Thomas, who was thrilled to see the project through completion.

"I wanted to create a design that showed the vibrancy and energy of the neighborhood and at that same time was relatively easy to make because I knew children and parents would take a huge part in the painting of it," said Thomas, an artist in residence for Moffitt Cancer Center, helping patients heal through creating art, often, in her case, mandalas.

"Driving over here this (Saturday) morning I was so excited because I had met many of the neighbors (at a "meet and greet the artist" celebration) and I just knew it was going to be well organized and it was going to have a good energy."

It did.

After an hour of chalking the outline with Lytle, the painting commenced at 10 a.m. with dozens of kids and parents dipping brushes and rollers into "weather borne traffic paint" precisely mixed and prepared by Thomas.

Less than six hours later, thanks in part to clouds holding back their rain, the mural was complete.

Beautiful.

Moving forward, the plan, as specified in the neighborhood association's by-laws, is to re-paint the mandala every two years and maintain its integrity as needed.

"Hopefully this is the start of more street murals around the city," Suarez said. "This has been a been a great project for everyone involved."

Contact Scott Purks at [email protected]

     
Comments
As ballots start coming in, All for Transportation makes its case for sales tax hike

As ballots start coming in, All for Transportation makes its case for sales tax hike

TAMPA — There is little disagreement that Hillsborough County’s roads and bus network are not meeting the needs of the fast-growing county.But how to fix congestion and pay for better transit remains a thorny issue even as voting by mail already is u...
Published: 10/12/18
Here’s how money from a sales tax hike would improve transportation in Hillsborough

Here’s how money from a sales tax hike would improve transportation in Hillsborough

BRANDON — The snarl of traffic starts early on Bloomingdale Avenue, brake lights inching west in a blur toward Interstate 75.Almost 50,000 vehicles travel the four-lane road every day. Congestion is so bad that traffic engineers give it an F, the low...
Published: 10/12/18
Bucs, Rays, Lightning back sales tax hike for transportation; each donate $100,000

Bucs, Rays, Lightning back sales tax hike for transportation; each donate $100,000

TAMPA — Tampa Bay’s three major professional sports franchises have each donated $100,000 to the citizen’s group pushing a sales tax for transportation improvements, helping push the group’s total political donations over the $2 million mark.Boosted ...
Updated one month ago
Pinellas’ first electric bus is here. It’s free. It’s in St. Pete.

Pinellas’ first electric bus is here. It’s free. It’s in St. Pete.

ST. PETERSBURG — The rumblings of a bus tend to be loud and exhaust-filled. Pinellas County’s bus agency wants to change that around here. The Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority purchased two electric busses that will start running this...
Updated one month ago
Is Pinellas County really the most dangerous place in the nation to ride a bicycle?

Is Pinellas County really the most dangerous place in the nation to ride a bicycle?

The headline was alarming."The Most Dangerous Place to Bicycle in America," the Wall Street Journal wrote Monday, declaring "Pinellas County, Fla., has the highest cyclist death rate in the Tampa Bay metro area — which has the highest rate of any met...
Updated one month ago
Commute times reach nearly half an hour, note backers of tax hike for transportation

Commute times reach nearly half an hour, note backers of tax hike for transportation

TAMPA — Something to ponder the next time you’re stuck on Dale Mabry Highway during rush hour: The average commute for people in Hillsborough County now pushes half an hour.U.S. Census Bureau data released this month shows a 28.3 minute average commu...
Updated one month ago