Whittier, CA - In a landmark decision that marks a significant milestone in the urban revitalization of Uptown Whittier, the Whittier City Council, in a meeting held on December 12, 2023, unanimously approved the ambitious Greenleaf Promenade project plans. The approval, coming after extensive discussions and input from various stakeholders, heralds a new era for the historic Greenleaf Avenue.
Unanimous Council Approval with Notable Absences
The council’s decision, excluding Mayor Joe Vinatieri due to a conflict of interest and Councilmember Jessica Martinez who was not present, reflects a cohesive vision for the city’s future. Vinatieri, owning a business in the project area, recused himself to maintain the integrity of the council’s decision-making process.
Project Overview and Timeline
Public Works Director Kyle Cason outlined the project's phased approach, indicating that it would be divided into blocks, each requiring approximately 3 to 4 months for completion. This structured approach promises minimal disruption and maximum efficiency.
ADA Compliance and Environmental Considerations
A pivotal aspect of the project, as highlighted by Cason in response to Councilmember Cathy Warner’s query, is the removal of ficus trees along Greenleaf Avenue. This step is crucial for the promenade to meet ADA compliance, ensuring accessibility for all. The council also noted that a full environmental review was not mandatory for the project's progression.
New Tree Species for a Greener Tomorrow
The plan includes replacing the ficus trees with a variety of species that are environmentally beneficial and resistant to parasites and viruses. These new trees, expected to reach heights of 60-80 feet, are designed to avoid the previous issues of sidewalk damage and infrastructure disruption.
Landscape Aesthetics and Public Amenities
Councilmember Fernando Dutra raised important questions about the aesthetic integration of landscape lighting, emphasizing its role in enhancing both the businesses and the streetscape. The plan also includes provisions for bike racks, addressing a public query about bicycle parking, although bicycle lockers were not initially considered.
Community's Voice: Merchants and Public Enthusiasm
The meeting saw an outpouring of support from local merchants and the general public. Whittier City Council candidate Maggie Moe, while excited about the new development, expressed a sentimental note about the removal of the ficus trees. The unanimous enthusiasm from the community underscores the project’s alignment with public interest and urban development goals.
The Greenleaf Promenade project, now set in motion, is poised to transform Uptown Whittier into a vibrant, accessible, and environmentally sustainable urban space. Its approval signifies the community's trust in the council's vision and dedication to enhancing the quality of life in Whittier.
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