Berkeley’s Office of Economic Development, along with various city organizations, has proposed building a decorative lit archway at the intersection of Telegraph Avenue and Dwight Way, saying the arch will promote business and security on Telegraph as well as connect students to the Berkeley community.
UC Berkeley’s Chancellor’s Community Partnership Fund, which was established in 2006 to support partnerships between the campus and the wider Berkeley community, awarded a $70,000 grant to fund the construction of the archway in May 2012.
The archway is an example of UC Berkeley and the city partnering to address the economic and security challenges facing Telegraph, said Julie Sinai, UC Berkeley’s director of local government and community relations.
“The archway does a good job addressing the biggest issue — safety at the corner,” said ASUC External Affairs Vice President Safeena Mecklai. “Fostering a sense of community between the university and the city and doing that through a public safety project is a good thing.”
Mecklai and other ASUC officials have spearheaded efforts to improve lighting on Southside to enhance its safety at night.
Many business owners on Telegraph agree. Cassy Benuzzi, manager of Sockshop Telegraph, said the proposed archway’s lighting may deter people from loitering and, in turn, promote business.
The committee that designed the proposal said the archway will help connect the southern part of Telegraph with the shopping area north of Dwight Way and will attract more shoppers.
The proposal was introduced by a team of city interest groups, including Berkeley Design Advocates and the Telegraph Business Improvement District, and was supported by UC Berkeley student organizations such as the ASUC and the Graduate Assembly.
“We have some problems with the perception that people have that the (Telegraph) neighborhood is not inviting,” said Doris Moskowitz, a member of TBID and owner of Moe’s Books, which is located near the intersection of Telegraph and Dwight. “Building the archway is like washing our face — we want to make ourselves more presentable.”
The proposal’s design consists of a decorated archway with white LED lights reflecting off of multicolored disks and will be located on the northern side of the intersection.
The committee has submitted its application for an encroachment permit to the city’s department of public works and will require consideration by Berkeley City Council. Jennifer McDougall, principal planner for UC Berkeley Capital Projects, hopes the archway will be built by late January 2014.
“In the wintertime, all the trees lose leaves, and it becomes sort of a bleak setting, and nighttime comes earlier,” McDougall said. “It will be a wonderful addition and help to tie the business district together.”