City collaborates with growing volunteer group

City collaborates with growing volunteer group

A building covered with graffiti by Davison Avenue will be painted by volunteers on Saturday, Aug. 19. More volunteers are sought and may show up throughout the day. (Breeze photo by Sandy Seoane)
More help sought for bridge/business painting Aug. 18

WOONSOCKET – A group of volunteers is taking on their next project on Saturday, Aug. 19, and with a little help from city administration, their work promises to transform a somewhat blighted area into a piece of art greeting guests to Woonsocket.

Residents Anthony Dichristofero and Michael Martin partnered in June on a project to give a local business, The Tapas and The Papas, a free exterior makeover. Now they and other volunteers, dubbed the Community Action Brigade, will take on the underpass on Davison Street leading to the Blackstone River Bikeway and Riversedge Recreational Complex.

The group plans to paint a large mural on the overpass and the business attached to it depicting the nearby Blackstone River, along with people having fun skateboarding, roller-blading and biking on the path. Currently, the area is overgrown and graffiti covers the surrounding walls.

“I live on Manville Road and thousands of cars drive through that underpass every single day and they are greeted by overgrowth and graffiti,” Dichristofero said. “It’s such an eyesore. That’s one of the main entrance ways into our city off of a state road. I think it should be more presentable than that, so I’m going to take the necessary action and change it.”

Volunteers will not only address the city-owned property leading into Riversedge, but will also target two private properties. A nearby building belonging to a landscaping company is covered with graffiti and the owner has given the group permission to use the wall as mural space. Another land owner across the street has agreed to let them paint his wall.

“We would like to put a ‘Welcome to Woonsocket’ spelled out on one side and a large mural on the other,” Dichristofero said. He said they also plan to incorporate the city logo.

Dichristofero is seeking additional volunteers to help prepare the area for painting, including scraping old paint from the walls, sweeping streets and helping with weeding and cleaning of the area. Once those needs are addressed the group will paint the building and cement wall bright white before the murals go up.

He and fellow organizer Martin are also looking for talented artists looking to showcase their work by volunteering time to help design and paint the murals, as well as future ones.

The pair has been meeting with Mayor Lisa Baldelli-Hunt to collaborate on both the Saturday event and future projects, and the combined effort to tackle long-standing city needs has led to even larger goals.

“I’m really pleased that they’re willing to step forward,” Baldelli-Hunt said of Martin and Dichristofero. “It’s really exciting. It was great to hear from the folks that are entrenched in the community. They really gave off that they love the city.”

The mayor has agreed to have the city’s Department of Public Works clean the area, power-wash the overpass and address some of the overgrown vegetation. She also had her staff reach out to local hardware stores and True Value Hardware and Lowe’s have donated 20 to 25 gallons of paint in assorted colors.

“We’re trying to put their resources together with the contacts I have,” Baldelli-Hunt said. “Sometimes it’s just a matter of having manpower.”

“The bridge itself is attractive,” the mayor added. “It is a main artery to the city.”

Baldelli-Hunt said she hopes to work with the team on more projects to come.

“Everything we talked about are things I’ve talked about internally, but don’t have the staff to address,” she said. “We’re going to sit down and plan out some other projects and we’re going to collaborate.”

“They have a lot of energy. We really can do it,” Baldelli-Hunt said. “It’s an exciting time.”

Dichristofero agreed with assessment.

“We had all kinds of good ideas flowing in our meeting,” he said.

“I can’t wait to see this project through,” he added. “I know we can achieve this goal and it’s going to transform that whole area. It’s going to be amazing.”

The work will begin at 9 a.m. on August 19. Volunteers are asked to show up whenever they are able throughout the day and stay for as long as they can. To learn about CAB’s future projects and get involved follow Facebook page “02895 Woonsocket, RI”.

The mural depicted here, minus the mountains, will be used for inspiration in creating a piece of art to greet those driving along Manville Road.

Comments

Isn't it amazing how volunteers accomplish more than our elected city council members? What initiatives have they made and followed through with since they were elected?

Seriously, what positive 'things' have they done which are tangible to see/feel?

Kudos to the Mayor for taking time to brainstorm and work with these volunteers. It's also a great thing that our Public Works department steps up and helps without any issues.

Thank you Anthony and Mike for ACTUALLY being involved in our community.

Anthony and Mark are stepping up and inspiring others to give back. These two gentlemen are a true inspiration!! Keep up the good work, you guys are what made this city great years ago, and will be what makes it better in the future.