Friends, neighbors and Squarians, we bring forth another Spring House Tour extravaganza! There will be, at last count, 11 homes and four gardens for our friends and guests to tour on June 2 and 3. The House Tour Committee has been working tirelessly to bring another great tour to the Square. Why do we put ourselves through this glorious pain? … oh, I’m glad you asked!
House tour is now, and always has been, about showing others how great life can be living in the city, and especially Lafayette Square. So the legend goes, the first house tour tickets cost 75 cents, and if a tour goer bought a house in the Square, the 75 cents was refunded! Those days are behind us, but the tour is still about showing off the park, business district, our lovely streets, the restaurants and the people in the Square who could be there new best friends!
There is also the fundraising aspect of the tour. This money goes to projects and maintenance in the neighborhood. Entrance features (and repair of the one destroyed at Lafayette and 18th Street), the fountain (have you noticed the new blue paint and ALL of the fountain jets working), the rain garden and medians in the plaza area, the new fence along Truman Parkway, new saplings planted in the park to help replace those affected by the ash borer beetle and the new sidewalk on Hickory under the Great Wall of Benton, to name a few obvious additions.
Upcoming improvements will include a new decorative fence feature at Carroll and Truman, an extended fence from Carroll to Zumwalt, a traffic-calming feature at Hickory and Jefferson, cameras for the Park and Truman intersection, a pilot historic street sign project for Park Avenue (maybe to be extended in the future), funding the Request for Proposal for development of a Strategic Plan for the neighborhood and a grant to the Bandstand project. Things that are “taken care of” quietly are a new water heater for the Park House; replacing lights in the plaza; plantings for the plaza; small grants for duck food, doggy bags, neighborhood charities, egg rolls (the kind you do and not eat); maintaining the pervious pavement in the plaza, fixing the water lines and fencing after “individuals” run over them…unfortunately the list goes on, and on…
There are some other great things happening in the Square. The NW Quadrant has a serious and talented redevelopment team; the Historic Standards revision is almost completed and ready for neighborhood comment; the Urban Plan has been modified to establish proper zoning for the old Praxair and truck lot properties; and we are beginning work on a new five-year Strategic Plan.
Some people may look at Lafayette Square as stuck in the past, a dusty reminder of the Gilded Age, but this neighborhood is far from that. I believe this is one of the most progressive neighborhoods in the city. I feel privileged to live here and proud to show it off to the thousands of guests who will be visiting us during Spring House Tour!