The neighborhood group has the money, the desire and the preliminary plans to put a concrete monument honoring the State Capitol’s architect at Goodhue Boulevard and A Street.
But it needs the formal blessing of the Capitol Environs Commission, and it faced several questions and concerns at the commission’s meeting Thursday.
Like the kind of concrete. The type of metal. The language on the plaque. And the biggest question: whether drawing pedestrians to read something in the middle of a median would put them in danger.
Overall, the commission supported the Near South Neighborhood Association’s idea to mark the south end of Goodhue Boulevard, which extends seven blocks from the Capitol. The association wants to use a $2,500 grant it received from NeighborWorks Lincoln to pay for the monument.
“We’re trying to see if we can inform the area a little more about the state, the history of the Capitol, the history of the neighborhood and the history of the architect,” association member Brayden McLaughlin said earlier this week.
The poured concrete monument would announce the association’s name and, on its sloped top, contain an engraved plaque with the biographical background of Bertram Goodhue, the New York architect who designed the Capitol.
The group has been considering a marker for several years, McLaughlin said, but the design it shared with the Capitol Environs Commission was created in the past few months.
“We’ve always kind of wanted sort of a marker at the end of Goodhue. It’s been kind of an entrance to the neighborhood that’s been overlooked,” McLaughlin said.
The group needs the approval of the commission, a city-state board with oversight of public and private property improvement in the blocks surrounding the Capitol and, in this case, the blocks adjacent to the Capitol malls.
Goodhue Boulevard — formerly South 15th Street — is one of the four axial streets radiating out from the Capitol, like Centennial Mall and Lincoln Mall.
The commission didn’t vote Thursday but listened to the plan and gave its early thoughts.
Lynn Johnson, the city’s parks director and a nonvoting member, suggested precast concrete would be more attractive for the base, bronze more durable for the plaque. He also warned city mowers could chip the base of the monument.
Commissioner Cecil Steward called the idea a good beginning but too timid and said a traffic roundabout with a center decoration might be more fitting.
Capitol administrator Bob Ripley, also a nonvoting member, raised a concern about placement and safety. By giving pedestrians something to read in a median, you’re trapping them between traffic lanes. Goodhue isn’t the busiest street, he said, but A Street can carry heavy traffic.
Ripley suggested the association revisit plans that were drafted more than 30 years ago that called for a pair of sidewalk markers.
McLaughlin took notes, answered questions and promised to return with a revised plan.
“I knew we weren’t probably going to get off without a hitch with so many parties involved,” he said after the meeting.
But he felt like the commission supported the general idea, and he planned to report back to his association board next month. The idea also needs the approval of the city’s Public Works and Utilities Department.
“They definitely have to touch base with us,” said Public Works director Miki Esposito. “We’d evaluate it for safety and we’d evaluate it for sight obstruction and location. And we welcome that conversation.”