Saturday, November 19, 2011


Starting Monday, November 21, the fire hydrants in the West End will get a fresh coat of paint.

Supt. of Long Beach Water, Christopher Windel notified me this morning that workers will begin at Nevada Avenue moving east up Beech Street then to Park Avenue.

The state-of-the-art fire hydrant on Arizona Ave.
He anticipates all the hydrant painting will be completed by Thanksgiving.

Mr. Windel pointed out that a new, state-of-the-art fire hydrant has been installed at 38 Arizona and will be the future of the Long Beach water transmission system.

Our Supt. of Water is a true son of the West End. He was born in Long Beach Hospital and grew up on Wyoming Avenue. And now, he has given us one more thing to be thankful for this Thursday.

We are grateful to Mr. Windel as well as Public Works Commissioner Kevin Mulligan for their prompt, professional response to West End Beautification.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

It's the little things...

This week I noticed our Public Works landscape specialist, Kevin Colgan, planting beautiful white and purple decorative cabbage in the Virginia Ave garden and the Nevada Ave mini park.
It cheered me to see how this small improvement gave such a lift to these spots, but more than that, it was a sign that the West End is on the Public Works radar screen.

So while we have their attention: please, please paint our fire hydrants!! 

One West End homeowner decided that the rusty, faded old fire hydrant in front of his beautifully remodeled home was unacceptable. So, he painted it himself.

And in that small gesture gave us one of the best examples of how simple attention to maintenance can drastically improve our streetscapes.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Walking the Beech [Street]... (PART II)

Continuing the ideas discussed in this past weekend's post...

Here are a few ideas for consideration:

Proposed schematic for narrow sidewalks
Narrow sidewalks: let’s start with grates for under the trees. This will enable not only a few more square feet of walk able space but look neat, discourage dog pooping and create a safer walking environment (no ankle twisting when the concrete drops off into the tree well). City parking lot walls should be moved back to flush with the building line.

Where traffic light poles impede corner, extend the corner 4 feet into the intersection and move the pole. Yes, this sounds ambitious, but Beech Street still has lots of private resident side yards and without exercising eminent domain rights, the city has few alternatives to make the sidewalks ADA (Americans with Disabilities) compliant.

Unsightly sidewalks: Who ya gonna call: Gumbusters! Yes, there’s a cleaning process for removing gum and dirt and as for the cracked concrete and emerging weeds: property owner code compliance officers. This is a once a year project.

Commercial garbage: 2 options: either the City Sanitation pick-up schedule for Beech Street has to be moved to 7am or the commercial business owners need to hire private carters who will pick up garbage by 7am.

Litter, etc.: This is partly a code compliance issue and partly not. Let me explain: Unlike Park Avenue in the East End, Beech street has lots of area that is NOT fronted by commercial property: the library, the schoolyard, the city-owned parking lots. Not to mention lots of empty storefronts and one empty lot. In the off season, the streets are relatively clean.

But in the summer, it is impossible to keep up with the huge amount of cigarette butts (did you know that cigarette butts comprise almost 70% of all litter, more on that on another day) and trash that accumulates all day long. In September, West End Beautification launched a Good Neighbor Award incentive program to encourage business owners to comply with sanitation codes and present attractive streetscapes.

We also recommend summer street sweepers. (See our proposal here.) Specifically, two summer sanitation specials (not sanitation employees) who would work from Memorial Day to Labor Day, Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday from 8am to 4pm.

Sweeping gutters, removing abandoned bottles, cups etc. from walls, bushes, parking lots, removing bags of trash piled on top of receptacles, wipe down trash receptacles (which, by the way, should have liners so they don’t smell in the summer heat.) The cost for this is estimated at approximately $15-$20,000 per year. More details on that to come.

Gathering place: The only place on Beech Street that offers any possibility at this time is the Welcome to Long Beach area on Nevada Avenue. I recommend a complete overhaul of that site (which is looking more than a bit tired since it was first dedicated almost 40 years ago.

New plantings, lighting, perhaps a small fountain, irrigation, benches, tables for playing cards or checkers, and pavers. Let people purchase pavers and benches for inscriptions to offset the costs.

Of course, while we’re dreamin, I’d like 2 bike bollards on every block, new trash receptacles with cigarette butt extinguishers on top and new cobblestone curbs.

Now, if I could just find a magic lamp…

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Walking the Beech [Street] ... (PART I)

I grew up in the Bronx and moved to the suburbs of Westchester and Rockland Counties when my children were born. But the allure of the big backyard soon gave way to yearning for the walks to the local deli, or to the bakery for the first fresh, hot rolls of the day.

Meeting up with neighbors, current or former classmates along the way and catching up with the family news. A vibrant commercial district is the heart and soul of a community. 

And here in the West End, a clean, attractive, walk able commercial district is not just a dream, but a very real possibility. With a little vision, and support.

By all accounts, the West End is an ideal community: from any address you can walk to the Church, the Temple, the water park, the library, public and parochial schools and best of all, the beach., You can even walk or bike to the train that will take you into the heart of the greatest city in the world in less than an hour.

But West Beech Street is still a diamond in the rough, and here’s the rough:

  • Narrow sidewalks, complicated by poorly placed traffic poles and curb cuts discourage, no, preclude strollers and wheelchairs. In his book, The Great Neighborhood, Jay Wallsjasper said, “the true measure of neighborhood livability is whether senior citizens and disabled people can get around comfortably.”
  • Unsightly sidewalks, due to years of gum and dirt accumulation (wondered about those black polka dots?) cracked concrete and emerging sidewalk weeds
  • Commercial garbage crowding sidewalks into mid-morning to early afternoon, smelly in summer, unsightly and unsanitary all year round.
  • Litter, cigarette butts, cups, bottles lining curbs and clogging sewer grates.
  • Lack of important resident-supportive businesses such as butchers, gourmet grocers, bakeries, a bank, dentist, etc. Do you know that in the town of Westbury, LI, the Business Improvement District offers monetary incentives to quality businesses from other towns to open stores in their commercial strip?
  • Lack of cohesive design elements, like business signage (some businesses even suffer from identity crisis: the sign from the former business still remains! Who ya gonna call for this: zoning board? ) period street signs and lights with banners and hanging plants. 

So if part of the solution is identifying the problem we are halfway there.

Tune in tomorrow for a few ideas for consideration.