Driving past Rivercrest Park in South Seminole Heights, the intersection of N. River Blvd. and W. Louisiana Ave. is hard to miss – brilliant blues and oranges fill the street in an eye-catching pattern that makes any driver want to slow down for a closer look.
And that’s its purpose. The Rivercrest Park painted street art is Tampa’s first street mural project, public art that also serves as a traffic calming device.
The South Seminole Heights Civic Association (SSHCA) installed the mural in 2017 as a creative way to curb speeding at an intersection outside a public park with no crosswalk, two blocks from an elementary school.
“It really makes an impact on people driving quickly in the neighborhood because they’re not familiar with the area. They slow down to see what it is,” says SSHCA President Stephen Lytle. “It’s a gentle reminder that we need to be cognizant of pedestrians. It’s done its job effectively.”
Which brings us back to Sterling Avenue.
Anyone living, walking, biking around Sterling Avenue between Bay to Bay Blvd. and El Prado Blvd. knows the frustrations of this road. There are no stops or crosswalks for this 0.6-mile stretch – even on streets like Obispo (which provides an otherwise connected sidewalk route to Roosevelt Elementary School) or Corona (outside a public park). Cars use Sterling as a racetrack, its smooth, unimpeded surface encouraging speeds well over the posted 25mph (15mph by the park!).
Residents have complained about it for years. They have called the City and demanded traffic studies (without success). They have called the news (lots of stories, no big change).
It’s time to take on this problem ourselves. The City of Tampa has approved the Palma Ceia Neighborhood Association’s request to explore installing our own Street Mural Project at the intersection of S. Sterling Avenue and W. Corona St. So how can we go about creating our own change in how Sterling Avenue functions?
Here’s how the process works:
1. Form a Street Mural Project Group
2. Solicit designs from professional artists familiar with large format design
3. Get together as a neighborhood and vote on a design
4. Check the boxes – get a sign off from the City and pull permits
5. Pick a day that promises fair weather, invite the neighbors, and paint the street!
“The neighborhood was involved in the entire process,” Lytle says of the Rivercrest Park mural. “Everybody in our neighborhood had an opportunity to be involved if they so chose. We had a great time doing it!”
If you are interested in being part of the project group working on painting a street mural at the Sterling and Corona intersection, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.