Kudos to those who saw the glass as half full rather than half empty and went to work seeking further funding for Colorado Boulevard improvements. A huge thanks to all the optimists, listed below. Because of their efforts Take Back the Boulevard (TBTB) has received a $2M grant through the Metro Call for Projects program, dollars that will be used to further improve Colorado Boulevard and the quality of life in Eagle Rock. There is also reason for optimism regarding another grant alternative, the Active Transportation Program (ATP). If awarded to Eagle Rock, the ATP could provide an additional $9.5M, increasing the total to $11.5M for further Boulevard enhancements. More detail about that possibility below.
An important aspect of celebrating success is to recognize how it was achieved. The most crucial elements of TBTB’s success were the contributions made by the many Eagle Rockers who served on the TBTB Team, the unwavering support of Jose Huizar and his team, and the consultant expertise provided by Civic Enterprise. Other important contributions to this success are detailed next in the high level review of our process.
Successful community initiatives begin with community support, start-up funding, and people willing to do the work of pursuing a goal. In January 2011, the TERA Board voted to begin the pursuit of an initiative to improve the Colorado Boulevard experience, making it more consistent with the small-town nature of Eagle Rock. One month later TERA allocated $5,000 as start-up funding for TBTB. The Council Office enthusiastically signed on as a partner. In March 2011, community outreach began with a luncheon for Eagle Rock Community Leadership. In typical Eagle Rock fashion, people raised their hands to be part of the effort; and the TBTB Steering Committee was formed.
• Bob Gotham – Chair / TERA
• Bob Arranaga / ERCPR
• Brian Cawley / TERA
• Allen Compton / Consultant (pro bono)
• Nate Hayward / CD14
• Jeff Jacobberger / Civic Enterprise
• Kevin Ocubillo / CD14
• Mott Smith / Civic Enterprise
• Michael Tharp / Design Review Board
• Chloe Renee Ziegler / CERB.
Over time, as retiring members rotated off the team, the following individuals joined:
• Robert DePietro / Chamber of Commerce
• Matt Harrington / ERNC
• Marisa Spinella / ERNC
• Mark Vallianotos / Occidental College.
As chair of the TBTB Team, I hope that you will join me in thanking the extraordinary and generous group of people who worked to secure this Grant for Eagle Rock.
Over the next two years, over 40 community outreach meetings were held. The primary goals of the meetings were to encourage a community dialog on what residents liked, didn’t like, and more important, how they would like the Boulevard to be changed. Based on the two years of community feedback the Colorado Boulevard Vision Plan was developed. This document, which may be viewed at this link, www.tera90041.org/colorado_blvd_vision_plan.aspx, reflects the ways in which the majority of the community felt the Boulevard could be changed to better serve Eagle Rock. Most of the changes related to safety.
The success of grant applications is often determined by how fully and how well the grant applicant details how funds would be spent should they be secured, as well as a demonstrated record of community outreach and participation. Civic Enterprise, the consultants engaged to support our efforts, provided excellent guidance and assistance in developing the Colorado Boulevard Vision Plan. As they predicted, the existence of the Vision Plan was a key and decisive factor in acquiring the $2.5M grant.
The ability to move forward utilizing the Metro Call for Projects Grant funding is contingent on when the funds are released by Metro. The City has indicated a likely begin date for the project as January 2020. The specific enhancements that are implemented will be guided by the streetscape budget of $2.5M and the proposed enhancements included in the Grant Application.
In addition to TBTB’s Metro Call for Projects Grant Application, the City also applied for $9.5 million in funding under a State program called the Active Transportation Program (ATP), a program that often considers grant applications for larger dollar amounts. Under the ATP program, the State makes an initial round of awards, and then the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) recommends a second group of projects for funding. The TBTB application narrowly missed the cutoff for the initial awards. However early feedback indicates that in the second group, SCAG may recommend funding the TBTB project for an additional $9.5M, bringing the total funding for the Boulevard to $12M. A final decision regarding the ATP Grant will be announced by year end.
Below is a high-level description of possible further enhancements to the Boulevard. The proposals should be understood with the following caveats:
1. Budget: The extent of enhancements to the Boulevard will be scoped based on the available funding, (at least $2M, possibly $11.5M).
2. Colorado Boulevard Vision Plan: This document, which reflects community feedback over two years, was utilized as the basis for completing the grant applications in the areas requiring a description of proposed changes.
3. Grant Criteria: Each grant defines specific criteria that must be met in order for the request for funding to be approved. Therefore, the enhancements included in TBTB’s request for funding included those aspects of the Colorado Boulevard Vision Plan that met the grant criteria. There are some aspects of the Vision Plan that are not included since they did not comply with the grant criteria. The TBTB Team will attempt, as far as possible, to include some of those goals as a subset of a larger compliant goal.
Based on the success of acquiring the Grants, at a high level the following changes may be anticipated. Many, but not all of the enhancements will be located on the stretch of Colorado between Eagle Rock Boulevard and Eagle Rock Plaza.
• Reduce pedestrian crossing distances at key intersections.
• New mid-block crossing(s).
• Improved pedestrian lighting.
• New median safety islands.
• New / improved landscaping
• New medians
• Special emphasis on routes to school.
• Existing traffic signals – improve synchronization
• New traffic signals
• New left turn pockets
The Take Back the Boulevard effort has traveled a long distance since the beginning days in 2011. It is remarkable how much is possible when Eagle Rockers roll up their sleeves, create partnerships throughout the community, and work together to make our community be all that it can be. Hopefully, TBTB’s success will encourage more in our community to get involved and make a difference.