Lake Oswego City Councilors have approved a slate of Neighborhood Enhancement Grant projects for fiscal year 2017-2018 that focus on public art and emergency preparedness, with a handful of landscaping proposals and community events thrown in for good measure.
"The recommended amount would fund five physical improvements in the right of way, three public art projects, four emergency preparedness projects and five neighborhood events," Senior Planner Sarah Selden told the council at its July 18 meeting.
The grants are intended to help local groups pursue projects that benefit the community or contribute to the character of their neighborhoods. The City provides $60,000 in funding each year to be allocated among the approved projects; applications are evaluated by a seven-member Review Committee, which this year recommended 13 proposals for full or partial funding.
"In total, the recommended award is just $2 shy of the $60,000 budget for the program," Selden said. "This year's proposals were really strong, and I think the grant review committee was pleased to be able to allocate almost all of the available budget."
The biggest grant for the upcoming year provides $18,750 for a series of public art installations along Boones Ferry Road. An upcoming City project will widen a portion of the road, add a new median and landscaping and create expanded sidewalk areas called "Waysides" — triangular paved spaces that jut out from the main sidewalk to serve as public plaza areas in front of local businesses.
The Lake Oswego Arts Council's Public Art Master Plan calls for artwork in those spaces, and according to Selden, public art has also been part of the design agenda for the project's Public Advisory Committee. But in this case, the group needed an alternate source of funding.
"The City has a Percent for Art Program in the City code for other capital projects like constructing a new building," Selden told The Review. "But the code specifically says that doesn't apply to street, pathway or utility construction."
Neighborhood Enhancement Grants are generally limited to $10,000 per project, but they can go higher if multiple neighborhoods team up. So the Lake Grove, Lake Forest and Waluga neighborhood associations submitted the request together and received full funding.
The money will be used to refine the initial designs for three pieces of public art, which will be fabricated this year and then placed in storage until they can be installed once the plaza spaces are completed.
Another major 2017-2018 grant is also art-focused: The Evergreen neighborhood will receive $10,000 to purchase "Origami #3-Totem," a sculpture that is currently on loan from the artist and on display in front of Kyra's Bake Shop as part of the Gallery Without Walls program.
The neighborhood will contribute an additional $3,000, and the sculpture will be donated to the Arts Council for maintenance. The plan is for the sculpture to be permanently installed on the east side of Tenth Street, just south of A Avenue and across the street from the Oswego Heritage House.
A couple of other neighborhood art projects also received funding: First Addition received a grant to host a "Festive Front Porches" holiday decorating contest, and Old Town will host a poetry competition and etch the winning submissions onto three sidewalk tiles on Durham Street.
Several of the other projects on the list focus on practical issues like landscaping, maintenance and emergency preparedness:
-- Forest Highlands and Lake Forest each received just over $4,000 to purchase supplies for the neighborhoods' Community Emergency Response Team captains to distribute in the event of a disaster or other emergency;
-- Hallinan Heights received $8,000 for a pair of projects: rehabilitating a school bus shelter and adding a pathway to the unimproved right of way along a portion of O'Brien Street; and
-- McVey received $4,600 to upgrade a planned replacement for a damaged wooden fence along South Shore Boulevard. Instead of chain link, the replacement will now be made of black metal.
For most of the projects, it will be up to the neighborhood applicants to determine how to proceed over the next year. Some projects may take most of the year — the biggest project from the 2016-2017 roster was a new outdoor classroom pavilion at Hallinan Elementary School, which was only recently completed.