Changes have been steadily rolling out on Thayer Street over the last couple of years. Sidewalk bump outs, a fresh layer of blacktop, the 257 Thayer project. Now new tree wells and a bicycle repair station can be counted among the most recent in a parade of neighborhood improvements.
“We improved every single one of those tree wells,” explains Donna Personeus, Executive Director of the Thayer Street District Management Authority (TSDMA). “From Bowen to Waterman and down the side streets, wherever tree wells were in front of a TSDMA paying member’s business.”
Repairs to the tree wells and surrounding sidewalks began last year with locations that presented the greatest tripping hazard for walkers. In addition to public safety, the well-being of the trees was also taken into account. The TSDMA worked with City Forester Doug Still to make changes that would be beneficial to Thayer’s arboreal residents. That meant using cobblestones, which serve to filter water to roots and eliminate the need to regularly weed the soil around the trees. They’ve also done away with the metal grates that surrounded the trees, which had a tendency to collect litter. The sidewalks along Thayer have also been repaired; mending cracks and popped up slabs of concrete.
All said and done, the sidewalk and tree well project cost approximately $35,000, all paid for by the TSDMA with funds collected from neighborhood businesses specifically for street improvement projects.
“We have to help our merchants be successful on the street,” says Personeus. “This will be aesthetically pleasing and bring some consistency to the street.”
Thayer Street has also made yet another step forward in an increased effort to be a friendlier neighborhood for cyclists. Like many of the new developments on Thayer Street, this has been in the works for sometime. New bike racks were added along the street, as was a bike lane when the city recently repaved the road. Last fall, a Bicycle Benefits program was put into place where businesses offer discounts to cyclists enrolled in the program. The most recent piece in the bike friendly initiative was the installation of a bicycle repair station at the corner of Olive and Thayer. Paid for by the TSDMA, the repair station includes tools and an air pump. Legend Bicycle, located on Brook Street, will be maintaining the station, replacing any tools that become lost or damaged.
On the artistic side of things, the former location of Tedeschi’s will be turned into a temporary pop up art gallery. Community members and students have been donating materials to build exhibit walls behind the long-vacant windows. Curated by students, the gallery will feature the work of artists from the community as well as Brown, with its debut exhibit opening on December 2.
“This will hopefully be something that, down the road, any time we have a window that’s empty we’ll incorporate it,” says Personeus.
The gallery, called the 249 Thayer Window Art Gallery, will be in operation as long as the Tedeschi’s building is vacant.