CONCORD -- Decorative archways are coming to Todos Santos Plaza this summer, giving the popular downtown gathering spot a true sense of identity.
Councilman Ron Leone said he first had the idea of installing a permanent fence along the side of the plaza bordering Willow Pass Road to replace the unsightly temporary barriers the city puts up during events.
Leone, chairman of the city's Housing and Economic Development committee, learned that the city has funds for public art projects.
Mindful of the city's infamous "spirit poles" debacle, Leone said he didn't want a fence that was too artistic. However, he thought decorative archways would be a nice way to identify Todos Santos Plaza and add a creative touch to the space.
"I think it will be a beautiful addition to the plaza," said Leone, who described the park as the city's "gem."
The council approved both parts of the project in September, which has a total budget of about $199,650. Work on the 285-foot-long wrought iron fence is scheduled to begin in about three weeks and should take about a month to complete, said Mario Camorongan, manager of capital improvement projects.
In addition to its aesthetic appeal, the fence also should improve safety at the park by preventing children from dashing into Willow Pass Road in pursuit of errant balls, he said.
The city also hopes the fence encourages pedestrians to use the crosswalks at Grant and Mt. Diablo streets to cross Willow Pass instead of jaywalking in the middle of the busy roadway, Camorongan added.
Funds for the fence, estimated to cost less than $50,000, will come from the city's downtown landscape maintenance district, according to Camorongan.
The two archways will span the walkways leading into the plaza near where Willow Pass intersects with Mt. Diablo and Grant streets. Rising above sturdy stone columns, in wrought iron letters that match the fence, the double-sided archways will read "Todos Santos Plaza" on the side facing out toward the street and "City of Concord" on the reverse. The city plans to put the archways project out to bid soon.
"I think it's going to be an important addition to what we've been trying to do in the downtown," said Councilman Dan Helix, who also sits on the committee.
"I feel that by highlighting Todos Santos Plaza, it really is a significant step as far as what we're doing with the downtown businesses, to let them know we want to do everything we can to support them and to encourage people to use the downtown."
Lisa P. White covers Concord and Pleasant Hill. Contact her at 925-943-8011. Follow her at Twitter.com/lisa_p_white.