PIEDMONT -- It's been whacked and thumped, scraped and bumped.
The historic Piedmont pillar gets no respect.
The city has been working for several months to landscape and restore the pillar built in 1911 as an entryway to the city at the corner of Grand and Lower Grand avenues. But careless drivers, sometimes inebriated, keep running into the landscaped area around the pillar and even the pillar itself on a few occasions. Ten years ago, a tree was knocked over. Recently, someone hit and knocked over the stop sign. Another person hit the bushes. One of two crape myrtles just planted by the city was plowed over.
"The corner is unsafe and a drunk-driving trap," said park Commissioner Patty Siskind, who is leading the charge to restore the cracked pillar against the odds.
Police collision statistics show there have been 30 accidents in the past 10 years at that site, with cars totaled or damaged. The commission and parks Manager Mark Feldkamp agree more needs to be done to signal and avert drivers.
"We need some visual indicators like reflective 'drunk dots,' " commission chair Jukka Valkonen said.
The city is currently focusing on adding more light to the dangerous corner's monument with up-lighting and lighting of the lantern on top of the pillar, which has never been lit before. That project is estimated at $10,000, with another $5,000 projected to revamp the planted area to make it less susceptible to reckless drivers.
Ultimately, the site would be part of Piedmont's "complete streets" plan, which seeks to make the city's streets safer for pedestrians, bicyclists and drivers alike. Piedmont put many of its capital improvement projects on hold due to lack of funds. The pillar is one such project. Siskind is hoping for corporate, private or civic funding to restore this piece of Piedmont's early history that has taken a beating.
"This (monument) is aesthetically visible to Piedmont and should be maintained," Siskind said.
"Let's try to get something going," Feldkamp said.