This alternative design incorporates foliage found along the Melrose Promenade.
This alternative design incorporates foliage found along the Melrose Promenade.
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Several artistic designs for new community crosswalks along Melrose Avenue have been prepared and are ready for community input ahead of final selection and installation later this summer.

“We’re also hoping that the design that comes out of this process can begin to inform a pattern language for the entire project,” said Melrose Promenade project founder Mike Kent.

The urban planner has been working with community stakeholders and city departments for the past seven years to turn Melrose Avenue in Capitol Hill into a vibrant public open space. A concept plan was created in 2013 through a $20,000 Seattle Department of Neighborhoods grant.

Kent expects the city council to write $3 million in Puget Sound Regional Council grant funds for the Melrose Promenade project into the 2018 budget this fall. Then schematic designs for Melrose from East Pike to Lakeview Boulevard can begin taking shape — “A Phase One of a true redesign of the block,” Kent said.

Much like the rainbow intersections in Capitol Hill’s Pike/Pine corridor and the Central District’s Pan-African flag crossings, the Melrose Promenade will also use artistic designs for place-making crosswalks.

A call out for volunteers to serve on the Melrose Promenade Community Crosswalk Selection Committee was issued in April, later followed by a request for qualifications from local artists.

“We got a nice group of stakeholders from around Melrose who volunteered on the selection committee,” Kent said. “We reviewed the various applications and responses that came in for our request for proposals.”

Community artist Sara Snedeker rose to the top, out of six proposals received for the project.

“She was definitely the clear winner,” Kent said.

The community artist and Shoreline resident has completed a number of public art projects over the years.

“It was right down my alley,” she said, “and I know it’s not super-competitive in this field in Seattle.”

Before creating the designs — now up for review through an online survey — Snedeker walked along the promenade with the design committee and landscape architect.

“They talked about the community a lot,” she said, “and how the Melrose Promenade is seen as kind of the front porch of Capitol Hill.”

Snedeker said she was told the goal is to invigorate the space, making it more walkable and user-friendly. The design committee gave her more flexibility than she’s used to, Snedeker said, and what finally came out were three designs that should pass muster with transportation department criteria.

“I like to work with really vibrant, bold colors,” she said. “I think that colors impact people’s moods.”

Snedeker voted for the “Burst of Color” design and an alternative design to her “Poem Dazzle” concept. She also likes a design that reflects foliage found along Melrose, as she’s fond of painting native plants.

“To me, it’s kind of like paying homage to the voiceless among us in our ecology — in our important ecology,” Snedeker said, adding plants may be too tricky for SDOT, which will handle the installation.

Rather than painting the crosswalks, the two designs selected for two crosswalks at East Pike and Pine streets will be transferred to thermoplastic sheets that are laid down and cured with heat. Snedeker said that work appears set to take place in early September.

Kent said the online survey is expected to continue through the end of July, and possibly into early August. Further work on a Pike-to-Pine focus will be conducted with Berger Partnership later this year, he said. Berger assisted with the conceptual promenade plan back in 2013.

The community crosswalk project received a $50,000 Neighborhood Matching Fund grant in 2015 for planning and design work, followed by a $71,000 Neighborhood Parks and Street Fund grant for installing the crosswalks.