First Street is getting a new roadway and possibly new sidewalks splashed with artistic benches.
Last week, members of the Public Art Steering Committee discussed a project they hope to bring to fruition. If approved by city authorities, the committee intends to commission six to eight art benches that would be placed along First Street in downtown Napa.
Meanwhile, city staff is working to find funding to replace the brick sidewalks on First Street. The current bricks tend to pop up, creating tripping hazards and maintenance issues.
The benches would serve as part of the city’s larger effort to bring public art to Napa. They would be situated in various places between School and Main streets, among current permanent and temporary displays of art.
If the city manager gives the go-ahead for the benches, the committee plans to invite 30 artists and design firms to submit proposals with their ideas. The proposals would be reviewed by a panel and the City Council would have the final say on which artist should do the work, or whether the city should have such benches at all.
The steering committee is planning to have all of the benches created by a single artist or design firm and expects the entire project would cost $90,000. That would allow for $10,000 per bench and an honorarium for proposal finalists, according to the staff report.
The city’s art fund, which collects public art fees from developers, has a balance of $330,000, said planning manager Ken MacNab.
Because the project is in its infancy, a timeline has not yet been established, though committee members expressed the desire to issue the request for proposals as soon as possible, with benches installed in 2014.
This timeline would coincide with the completion of roadway work downtown.
The city is planning to open First and Second streets up to two-way traffic sometime before next summer, possibly in the winter or spring, depending on whether funding can be secured to expand the project to include new sidewalks on First.
“We’ve made a pitch to (City Manager) Mike Parness that if we could find a way to do the sidewalks now, before we switch directions, it would make construction so much easier,” Public Works Director Jack LaRochelle said.
If the sidewalks were replaced prior to the street changes, crews could close a single lane of traffic when work requires without causing as much disruption to the flow of traffic as would be caused if vehicles were traveling in both directions.
The City Council would have to allocate funds to replace the sidewalks, which it has not yet done.