New Kensington Planners Support Proposed Downtown Art Project

New Kensington planners recommend adopting a proposed project that would decorate a downtown alley and two intersections with artwork.

The city’s planning committee voted 3-0 on Tuesday in favor of the “Art in the Alley” project for Ivy Alley and the painting of pedestrian crossings on Fifth Avenue at Eighth and 10th Street. Commissioners Michael Keyes and Randi Shank were absent.

The project is proposed by the New Kensington Arts Center and the New Ken Downtown Partnership.

“Personally, I’m very excited,” said Jamie Smittle, vice president of the arts center. “I think it will be such a nice addition to the neighbourhood. It makes me happy to know that the city can see our vision and that they are going along with it.”

Commission President Richard Bruni called their presentation professional and well done.

“We congratulate you all on this project,” said Bruni. “We’d like to see it go away.”

The project will go to city council for final approval in September, city engineer Tony Males said. The council voted in favor of the draft during its meeting on 1 August.

While the project aims to decorate all of Ivy Alley between Fifth and Fourth Avenues, the planning committee’s recommendation only applies to the section between 10th Street and the municipal parking lot.

The art in this section of the alley is said to have a nature theme.

Males said officials could judge the project by this “little bite” and see how it plays out.

“I think it’s positive for the city,” he said. “Everyone hopes it expands.”

Furthermore, the approval only covers the art projects in the presentation of the two groups. Any art installation that would later want to be placed in the alley that was not included, or differs significantly, would have to be submitted to the planning committee for review and final approval by the city council.

The presentation to the planning committee, given primarily by Smittle, included additional examples of art projects that were not included in the initial presentation to the city council.

Examples were paintings of butterflies, birds, flowers and vines; photos of sunflowers and lightning over New Kensington Bridge; window frames with potted plants; a metal box and pipes painted to look like a box of macaroni and cheese; and interactive installations such as a xylophone, wind chimes and a bean bag game with old tires painted as flowers.

“You can do a lot with recycled materials,” Smittle said.

The crosswalk project would see the intersection at Fifth Avenue and 10th Street decorated with musical imagery, while the one at Fifth and Eighth would have a four-season theme. Other ideas would incorporate the city’s history.

The crosswalks would be spray painted using stencils, making it easy to update as they wear and fade over time. A sealant and non-slip coating would also be applied.

The alley art, made of waterproof materials, would be maintained by the community and the owners of the building.

Brian C. Rittmeyer is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Brian via email at [email protected] or via Twitter .

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