Richmond residents are invited Friday and Saturday to travel down the Yellow Brick Road, a unique exercise in urban planning that promises to show the Iron Triangle in an entirely new light.
As part of a project to redesign the neighborhood’s streets to prioritize children and families over cars, local residents are invited to view the “Living Preview” of ideas that have been pitched thus far for the area.
Visitors will be able to see and comment on some of the proposed changes as if they have already been installed in the streets surrounding Pogo Park’s Elm Playlot at 8th Street and Elm Avenue.
A makeshift roundabout, bulb-outs and temporary installations of trees, benches and street markings will help residents make informed recommendations on the future of the neighborhood’s streets, said Toody Maher, founder of Pogo Park, the nonprofit staffed entirely with Iron Triangle residents who are key drivers of the Yellow Brick Road project.
“Usually design projects go from paper to product,” Maher said Wednesday. “We go instead from product to paper.”
Residents are asked to visit Elm Playlot, which Pogo Park recently rebuilt into a vibrant space, between the hours of 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Saturday to comment on the segment of the so-called Yellow Brick Road project.
The Yellow Brick Road theme was developed by a group of Iron Triangle youths about six years ago who were asked for a summer project to come up with a vision for their neighborhood’s future. They came up with the concept of yellow bricks stenciled on the ground from Iron Triangle Court down to Ohio Avenue that connect children and families to schools, churches, parks and cultural institutions.
Maher, believing the idea was ingenious, said she was lucky that two of those youths now work on Pogo Park’s staff and have helped lift the Yellow Brick Road project off the ground. Additionally, the project won a $268,000 Caltrans grant to plan the concepts.
Now Pogo Park staff, city staff and other community members are working together to form a comprehensive plan. Over the summer, Maher said, about 30 community members, from teens to seniors, walked the entire neighborhood for 21 days to map out the Yellow Brick Road.
“They walked every street, and they mapped it,” she said. “They really thought it out, and it’s beautiful what they’ve done.”
The project is attracting national attention. Renowned urban designer Dan Burden is expected to attend the Living Preview event to meet with talk with the community about Yellow Brick Road.
“We are stenciling on an entire block; it looks like a different street ,” Maher said.
She was referring to Elm Avenue right in front of the park, which is envisioned to become a children’s playstreet.
“What that means is cars come second after children and play,” Maher said.” Cars are welcome in but you got to go slow.”