Thursday, August 2, 2018

Post Office Beautification Project Almost Finished

Absolutely incredible! What an amazing accomplishment! The entire group should be commended for coming together and working toward a common goal in a way that everyone was able to help in whatever capacity they could share!

Senior Lead Officer Kristan Delatori P3+1
Los Angeles Police Department - Pacific Division

Neighbors in the Windward Traffic Circle district have just about completed an ambitious beautification project around the Venice Post Office.
Mike Castillo and Mark Ryavec completing the first planter box.

55 planter boxes were installed around the Post Office.

The project, which cost about $40,000, involved new signage on the fences surrounding the Post Office, power washing of all the sidewalks for a month, construction of 55 planter boxes with lining, importation of over 50 tons of dirt and potting soil, and the installation of hundreds of cacti.  An add-on project involved the removal of concrete tree well covers that were strangling the Italian Stone Pines that ring the Post Office and their replacement with decomposed granite.  The neighbors also funded the replacement of one dead pine tree, an expensive proposition.  This was directed by landscape contractor Peter Eberhard, shown below.  (Yes, the tree makes one think of Christmas, but the expert advises not to trim the tree until cooler weather arrives in the fall.)
Digging out the roots of the dead Italian Stone Pine

Replacment Italian Stone Pine and landscaper Peter Eberhard
All the funding came from residents and businesses within two blocks of the Post Office.

The spark plug for this effort was artist and musician John Vester, who lives on Grand Blvd.  Joining him in leading the effort were Paul and Stacey Foxson, also residents on Grand.  
Mike Castillo, Paul Foxson, Ken Newfield, Captain James Roberts and John Vester

John Vester with Post Mistress Brittani Cephas and Eugene Cephas.
Captain James Roberts and SLO Kristan Delatori and the entire LAPD Pacific Division team were extremely supportive, as was Post Mistress Brittani Cephas who granted Neighbors of Grand and the VSA permission to install the planters on PO property and granted access to two water spigots on-site.

The heavy lifting was done by contractor and Grand Blvd. resident Mike Castillo who lent his crew - at cost - to construct the 55 4'x8' planter boxes and import the tons of dirt and potting soil to fill the boxes.  (Local business owner Ralph Ziman graciously granted us access to a large pile of dirt on his nearby construction site.)  

Russ Cletta and crew lining boxes.
Rialto resident and landscape architect Russ Cletta volunteered his crew - also at cost - to line the boxes with filter fabric to retain the dirt and to provide a barrier between the dirt and the wood sides and bottoms of the boxes.  They also mixed all the Venice dirt with the tons of potting soil.  Residents volunteered countless hours to shovel dirt and plant the hundreds of plants that were donated by residents and by Russ Cletta.

Several residents made extremely generous contributions to the VSA to support the effort, including Grant van Every, Jack Kindberg and Hama Sushi owner Esther Chiang (who also hosted a lovely party to celebrate completion of the installation).

Captain Roberts at the "after party."

John Vester and Hama Sushi Owner Esther Chiang at "after party."
For me, this effort was a sentimental journey back in time.  About 28 years ago Jim Murez, Ed Barger and I led 200 residents on a Sunday to plant the 21 Italian Stone Pines and the 20 New Zealand Christmas Trees on Windward.  My father and sister Janice joined me in that effort and one of the pines, on the corner of Windward and Riviera, was named after my Aunt Lucy, who had recently passed away.  
Cleaning up Windward after planter box installation.
Cacti in bloom.

We have a few more projects planned for the PO triangle, so contributions (tax deductible, of course) are welcome on this website.