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Pioneer Boulevard ‘Bulb Outs’ Could Be Demolished by Artesia Council

The controversial “bulb-outs” now line Pioneer Boulevard. Photo by Rico Dizon.

By Rico Dizon

They are octagonal in shapes.  They look like huge planters protruding on both sides of the streets along the Pioneer Boulevard stretch from 183rd Street up to 187th Streets, and they are what the City of Artesia called the “bulb-outs” and they are now facing possible removal.

The 12 landscaped “bulb-outs” are part of the interrupted Artesia old downtown improvement project due to the loss of redevelopment funds. The original intention of the “expanded curbs” are, according to city officials to “lend a beautiful ambience” in that area of the City.

The feed-backs from residents and motorists plying the boulevard are far from satisfactory, some might even say that there is an “outcry” of complaints over the capital improvement project. Some critics even thinks the “bulb outs” are nothing more than eye sores.

Worst, there have been complaints of potential traffic hazards, drainage concerns and loss of parking spaces.

Mayor Pro Tem TonyLima has received numerous complaints about the bulb outs. “I have yet to hear something positive, so far it’s been all negative,” he said. “I am even tempted to award a hundred dollars to whoever will praise these encroaching edifices on the street,” Lima chided. Upon his request to Interim City Manager Don Powell, this issue was placed in the agenda during the regular meeting of the City Council on Dec. 11, 2012.

“Personally, I don’t think these ‘so called public improvements’ add anything positive to the ambience,” said Powell and said “risk management” might be a justifiable cause for their removal although the small trees and portion of the landscaping could be saved for alternative use in the new City parking lot, he added.

Chuck Burkhardt, the City’s Public Works Consultant, said “the bulb outs landscaping is terrible and is a liability issue.”

When asked by Mayor Sally Flowers how long it would take to remove them, he replied “two days,” but quickly changed it to “6 working days because of the traffic control factor.”

The total cost to remove the bulb outs is $29,436 ($14,232 for demolition plus $15,204 to repave the locations) which could be appropriated from the Gas Tax Funds, according to the Interim City Manager.  Artesia is facing severe fiscal issues due to the elimination of its Redevelopment Agency due by state lawmakers.

On the other side of the “bulb out” issue, Councilman John Lyon is not laughing at all to Lima’s joke. In fact, he “would keep the bulb outs for the original concept they were intended for.”

“With just a little more time, I think the trees will grow and turn into beautiful landscape in the old downtown district,” he said.

In support of the removal, Councilman Miguel Canales said, “we can make them look better as no vegetation exists at all in the area.”

On the road hazard issue City Attorney Kevin Ennis clarified that under the terms and conditions, the bulb out are evaluated as safe.

For his part, Councilman Victor Manalo, who lives close to the area, wanted to give the structures a chance to achieve their original intention although he personally “hates them.”

Bill Kelly of Kelly & Associates Management Group informed the Council that the $1.3 million unfinished Pioneer Blvd. improvement project needs $708,000 more to complete.

With all the pros and cons over the project,  the issue will be back on the city council’s agenda in January.

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