The new wrought iron benches of the Santa Maria Library

Santa Maria Library benching its benches
Removal part of effort to ready for birthday celebration

by Niki Cervantes

wrought_iron_benches_santa_maria_libraryDave Kell of the City of Santa Maria Streets and Facilities Division hammers in bolts Friday to hold down the new wrought-iron chairs in front of the Santa Maria Public Library. Three concrete benches were removed to prevent homeless from sleeping on them.

To spruce up for its fifth birthday celebration, the Santa Maria Public Library is removing something that just didn’t age well — its outside benches. Instead of being used by the public at large, the three concrete benches in the library’s front plaza became favored spots for the homeless, people stretching out for long naps, skateboarders and cyclists, officials said.

Not everyone considered them an inviting ambiance, said city Librarian Mary Housel. “Some of our patrons were feeling uncomfortable walking into the library,” Housel said. “We want to welcome everyone.”

Back when the new library was being built, supporters paid $2,500 each for the “naming rights” to the benches. Each bench had a name plate attached to it with the name of the donor.

On Friday, the banished benches were replaced with a dozen wrought-iron chairs, scattered throughout the plaza in small groups that officials hope will encourage conversation among visitors — and discourage misuse, including extended stays by the homeless and others, said Alexander Posada, the city’s director of recreation and parks.

“If they want to sleep, they’d have to do it sitting up,” he said. The chairs also won’t be as enticing for skateboarders, who were using the benches as jumps.

Another problem with the benches, Posada said, was that they looked “harsh.” The new seating will better match the Spanish-style plaza’s wrought-iron light fixtures and trash cans. “They will be more eye pleasing,” he said.

It’s the kind of problem common to public plazas in cities everywhere, both Posada and Housel noted. But officials decided to bench the library’s benches as staff began to clean up for its birthday bash in August.

As for the benches themselves, their fate is still unfolding. The talk now is that the benches, and their name plates, might be relocated to a private patio used by the library staff. The question is whether the original naming rights agreements require that the benches be in a public area. Officials are researching that now.

“We don’t want to misstep,” said Mark van de Kamp, a city spokesperson.


Wrought iron drink dispensers

wrought_iron_drink_dispensersDrink It Up! New Line of Elegant Glass Drink Dispensers For Summer Beverages Introduced By Classic Hostess

No entertaining piece gets as much repeat use during an event as the glass beverage dispenser. Classic Hostess quality glass and wrought iron drink dispensers are exquisitely beautiful. This complements the retailers line of barware and cake stands

The sophisticated 3 gallon Beverage Dispenser features a timeless wrought iron base with a Tuscan European feel. The elegant beverage dispenser has the beloved apothecary style lid, with an ever sturdy turn spout in metal.

Now at $285.99 from the original $329.99, this Glass Beverage Dispenser With Wrought Iron Stand is being promoted as Hostess gift too. The wide opening allows easy cleaning, and would complement any wedding hydration station too.


Wrought iron fence for the new public park of Manville Landing

Manville Landing, boat launch opens
Gordon Hankinson of Cumberland sets off on a Blackstone River kayak adventure from the new boat ramp at Manville Hill Park Monday.


wrought_iron_fence_manville_parkIt was 20 years in the making, and topped $1.5 million before the final gravel pathways were laid this spring, but the town took ownership this week of the Manville Landing after officials checked off the last items on a construction punchlist that for a while seemed to have no end.

This new public park, about two acres, sits on what was the former mill pond that was part of the system powering the Manville Jenckes Mill across the street.

Along with some picnic tables and stone benches are a floating dock that fishermen are already using, and a sloped landing for launching canoes, kayaks and dinghies.

For boaters, it’s the town’s first and only access point to the Blackstone River and just the second one – with the Central Falls Landing – available in the entire Blackstone Valley.

Next spring, look for the Explorer riverboat to dock at the park and offer river excursions between Manville and Woonsocket by the Blackstone Valley Tourism Council.

For visitors to the area, wrought-iron fencing frames the river and dam and signs with historical information are coming soon from the Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor Commission.

Few, if any, current town officials were around back in the early 1990s when the nearby quarry owners donated the park area and the first federal funds were made available for the preliminary design.

Bob Billington was a young president of the Blackstone Valley Tourism Council, a post he still holds.

The project began with plenty of optimism, he recalls.

He recalls that David Bouley was the town planner when state officials first inquired about creating a park there.

“Hell, yes, we said,” Billington recalls. “Let’s take it. It will be a great river access point.

“Little did we know it would take another 20 years.”

Billington recalls securing $50,000 to $60,000 in federal funds for this project, an enormous sum, it seemed at the time.

Two decades later, it’s a more savvy Billington who says now that every new park or piece of bikeway comes with unknown contaminants from the valley’s industrial era.

“Never in my wildest imagination did I think it would cost so much,” he told The Breeze this week. “We had $50,000. I thought we were dealing with really big money, way more than we would need. “But we would be so wrong.”

He says now, “You can’t touch land without dredging up an amazing amount of problems. Our money doesn’t go very far.

“It’s ridiculous what we have to spend to reclaim land and be able to gain access to the river. We spent a real lot of money to make it usable.”

For Manville Landing, the problem was the filled mill pond where contractors found charred pieces of the mill tossed there during the cleanup of the great fire of 1958 that destroyed the Manville Jenckes Mill.

State Department of Transportation figures requested by The Breeze show expenses total $1,541,375 beginning with the $222,017 design by Vanesse Hangen Brustlin Inc. and ending with the $8,780 porous pathways requested by the Rhode Island Historic and Heritage Preservation Commission.

Most of the funding came through the federal Transportation Enhancement Program.

A. Korey was the first contractor, awarded a $502,494 contract in 2007, but only collecting $82,857 before going bankrupt and giving up the project. Site Tech Corp. then won the contract initially for $203,823.

But in 2009, contaminants including lead, arsenic, and petroleum hydrocarbons were found in the soil.

Cleanup in 2010 brought work to a halt for two years and cost taxpayers $506,272.

The entire site is covered now with a webbed cap topped by 18 inches of loam.

Site Tech’s renewed contract added $515,495 to the project.

Billington concedes now, after all the work, “When you look at Manville Landing, there’s not much there. It’s pretty basic.”

Still, he compliments DOT. “I’m pleased the DOT didn’t weaken, and stayed with it.

Now when we talk about landings, we’re a lot wiser now, it’s let’s dip our toe in the water first and if it’s going to be difficult, let’s move on.”

While Cumberland invested no money in the $1.5 million park, it now will assume some expense.

Acting town engineer Eugene Jeffers said the park is currently open 24-7, but access may be limited to dawn to dusk requiring someone to lock and unlock the gate.

Jeffers expects to add a couple of trash barrels that will need emptying.

The floating dock, which is anchored to pilings that stand a few inches above the 100-year storm mark, will likely be removed by the town during winter months.

And Public Works superintendent Frank Stowik said his department will add this park to the 30 properties – cemeteries, ballfields and other parks – that a two-man crew currently keeps mown.

No toilet facilities are available, so town officials expect only short-term picnickers and sightseers.

Back in 2007, when Korey Construction started, 300 condominiums, with a restaurant and other commercial structures, were approved for the quarry that borders the park.

That project has never been pursued and quarry operations continue there.


New wrought iron for Wrigley Field renovation

Wrigley renovation deal nearly complete

by David Kaplan

wrought_iron_wrigley_fieldCrains Chicago Business writer Danny Ecker updates Kap and Carm about the progress on the planned renovations for Wrigley Field, including the proposed bridge over Clark Street, the likelihood of an approval, and other issues associated with changing the stadium.

Much of the exterior surrounding Wrigley Field’s landmark marquee would be restored to how it appeared in the 1930s, including restoring windows, terra cotta and wrought-iron fencing to the stadium’s facade. There also would be an expanded terrace off the stadium’s upper deck above the marquee.



A wrought iron carriage for the performer Alan Parker

Not so medieval after all

By Adrienne Sichel

Wrought_Iron_Performer_Alan_ParkerThe vacuum-packed meat lies ready for sale. Don’t think beef or chicken. This is human flesh. It is Gavin Krastin’s lithe 25-year-old body which is revealed by co-perfomer Alan Parker (in eerie plastic head mask and tatty dressing gown) lying under a black shroud on a concrete St Andrews College locker room floor. This is how Krastin’s eight-part Rough Musick, presented on the National Arts Festivals’ performance art Main festival programming, began, watched by audiences sitting on benches or standing against the thick walls.

A wrought iron carriage hangs against the opposite wall where Parker first emerged riding on a tiny antique rocking horse. Memories of childhood, dollops of nostalgia, infuse this performance in which design is as integral as the curated action, the ritualistic audience interaction and choreo-graphy. The most obvious reference is Phia Menard’s extraordinary Vortex, which was part of the French season in Grahamstown last year. Yet, instead of inflating plastic, this artist sucked the air out of it, using a mouth tube to breathe.

A writer in Cue, the festival newspaper, commented that Krastin’s work was the equivalent of Brett Bailey meets Steven Cohen. Apart from the implications of derivation, this is far too easy an equation because, although heavily influenced by Cohen’s transgressive artistry and possessing an eclectic design ethos like Bailey’s, Krastin is developing his very own radically conceptual signature rooted in his own cultural heritage.

The medieval practice of “rough music”, in which criminals and social outcasts were publicly humiliated, is transposed to 21st century Grahamstown encased in its colonial, post-colonial and post-apartheid history. The only section of this highly ambitious work which didn’t ring true was the awkwardly stereotypical Sin Eating interlude in which the audience is asked to pelt a young black person with fresh bread. (The throwing of tomatoes and eggs at Krastin in the penultimate scene was far less contrived. One young man, still angry at being sexually propositioned, let rip. )

After Krastin’s vulnerable body is carried to the adjoining room where he emerges bare-chested in sky-high fetish boots, a black tassled skirt and pearls dancing to Christina Aguilera’s Nasty Naughty Boy, themes of temptation, sacrifice and sexuality seriously kick in. As a dancer Krastin’s dangerous beauty is meshed with a decadent fragility. Elements of the mythical and the fantastical intertwine with hard core reality, gender politics and textures of space and place. The narrative, told through the performer’s spine, is embedded with fetishism .

The stigma of being different from the norm climaxes to the clamour of pots and pans banged by the public as the shamed human is placed on the cycle carriage, wheeled into Worcester Street and hooked onto a donkey cart which clatters into the African sunset.

An important subtext to Rough Musick is raging homophobia in certain South African communities (not to mention the rest of the continent). Three days before the Grahamstown premiere the body of lesbian Duduzile Zozo, 26, was discovered in Thokoza with a toilet brush shoved into her vagina. As also proved by Mamela Nyamza and Mojisola Adebayo’s I Stand Corrected (2012), and Athena Mazarakis’s Standing By (2012/13), issue-based art with a capital “A” remains one of the cornerstones of our theatre and contemporary dance traditions.

In this respect Rough Musick functions both as a requiem for victims of gender violence and as a site-specific intervention in which unsettling tactile performance taps into psychological playgrounds and intellectual hinterlands.

Rough Musick and Land Mine (an exhibition of Krastin’s costumes and photographic documentation sourced from previous works) feature at World Stage Design 2013 in Cardiff, Wales from September 5 to15. This Capetonian is one of 100 finalists selected from 600 entries from 52 countries to exhibit and perform at this four-yearly “celebration of international performance design”. The African continent is only represented by Krastin and Illka Louw from Cape Town.


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