NEW BRITAIN, Conn. (AP) - With the help of volunteers, a dozen city hall workers and 120 gallons of paint, a stretch of Jubilee Street on Friday became perhaps the world’s largest honeycomb mural.
“It’s something for this neighborhood. It’s New Britain beautification - it’s Experience the New,” Mayor Erin Stewart said as she spread yellow paint across the pavement with a roller.
Dressed in torn jeans and old work boots, Stewart and several members of her staff spent about an hour and a half painting a 300-foot stretch of Jubilee Street in a massive honeycomb pattern of yellows, browns and reds.
City leaders hope the 700-square-foot mural will be one the most visible - and cheery - signs of revitalization in the low-income neighborhood. The YWCA this year opened its large East Side community center nearby.
“We’re doing a lot downtown and we need to do that, but we also want to be improving the neighborhoods,” said Public Works Director Mark Moriarty, who painted part of the mural as well as the massive concrete blocks the city installed to close off the section of Jubilee.
The street art is something of a test in New Britain - and in Connecticut.
The Capitol Region Council of Governments paid for the paint, rollers, tarps and other supplies to encourage a new idea for refreshing tired-looking streetscapes. Street Plans Collaborative, a New York urban design firm, has been organizing similar murals in Miami, southern California, Burlington, Vt., and elsewhere. The company had staff working on New Britain’s mural Friday.
CRCOG offered to pay for a pilot in Connecticut, and New Britain landed the grant.
The work targets a dreary-looking section where Jubilee divides into two parts about 300 feet east of East Street. The twin roadways pass on either side of a small grassy area that’s bigger than a traffic island, but not by much. City leaders hope that area will become a more popular mini-park after they close one of the two Jubilee sections to traffic.
The mural will draw more attention and, ideally, will help foster more neighborhood pride, city leaders said.
The idea is to promote New Britain’s beehive civic marketing logo with a massive mural based on the same pattern planned for the sides of the Beehive Bridge downtown. The paint could wash off in a few months, but Moriarty said he won’t be surprised if the neighborhood asks the city to put down sealant to make it semi-permanent.
Initially, Stewart and East Side community leaders intended for neighborhood volunteers to do the painting on Saturday. But with heavy rain forecast, she decided to close her office for the morning and bring her staff - along with managers from several other departments - to pitch in with rollers.
“In high school we used to have a senior parking lot and they let us paint our own spaces,” she said during the work. “So, oddly, this isn’t the first I’ve painted a street.”
Information from: Hartford Courant, http://www.courant.com
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