A North Nevada Avenue Resident Takes a “Dream” Walk Down His Street Early On A Sunday Morning

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Mark Nelson, a local architect who lives on North Nevada Avenue in the Old North End, has long been concerned for the future of that beautiful street with its heavily landscaped median and attractive Victorian homes. He wrote this essay following an early morning walk:


We are on the way to taking back our street.  No dedicated bus lanes, just one lane each way.  

This morning I had a waking and walking dream.  At the crack of dawn, I’m sleepily wondering “what’s going to happen to our street now?”  The dream continues as I find myself strolling down the middle of Nevada Avenue in front of our home.   Not the green grass part, mind you.  I’m walking the stripes in the middle of the asphalt!  I see a pretty pink Victorian home. No lights on yet.  NO giant BUS stopped or zooming by.  I walk a block and a half, and I’m passing through the bump-outs we got for the Steele Elementary School kids to more safely cross Nevada. Down there is our Steele School Park and pavilion we dreamed up. There is grey morning dawn over the shoulder of the gazebo – a peaceful, wonderful little spot.

So you’ve forgotten I’m in the middle of Nevada right?  But I am, and it’s not a dream.  For some strange reason, I woke up and got my Labrador named Moose, and we walked right out into and down the middle of this deathly street.  Now I’ve walked 2 blocks down the stripes in Nevada and there hasn’t been a car!  

Now I’m strolling by a beautiful Queen Anne, across the street from a stunning Spanish Colonial Mission Revival that the owners love so much.  Still no cars!  So I’m really starting to wonder.  Maybe I am in a dream.  This never happens.  This is the street that I fear to cross with Moose because my Irish setter Rufus was hit and killed right in front of our home.  Is this the same street?  Or is this one of the most beautiful streets you can dream of in America?  Is this my street?

Now I’m 3 blocks down Nevada Avenue, strolling down the middle of the asphalt on the stripes.  I have never experienced this in 30 years – still no cars!  Now passing a stately Georgian Square, and I’m thinking of how its owners have been so worried over what’s going to happen to their home, their street, our street.  Everybody telling them/us what they want to do with our street, and really no one cares about it like we do!  That’s the problem.

What happens to the street, especially right now?  This is the street that we wrested away from the State Highway Department, and from ridiculously being called a Major Arterial by the City. This is the street that we took back from the huge trailer-trucks that used to thunder down it, and that now we are wresting away from the speeding killer cars.

That is the whole point!  Back in the 1980’s, we figured out what we want to do with our neighborhood, to preserve it and finally do something about the horrendous traffic.  So we wrote a Master Plan.  The City did not do it, we did.  We told them that we know what’s best for our neighborhood and our streets, and they agreed.

Let’s tell them this. The lane freed up by safety-sizing Nevada Avenue will not be given to Mountain Metropolitan Transit (City bus service) for a dedicated bus lane.  We will decide.  And we are the folks that live on Nevada Avenue.  And we will invite the rest of the folks in our neighborhood to join in the conversation and explorations of what we are going to do.  We will invite the city to join in the conversation as well.  But it’s our street.

As some know, this is kind of what I do for a living (dream) and I could think of dozens of different things that could be wonderful, or a combination of them.  But the point is that we dream and we have the conversations and we create the ideas and that we decide.  It’s our street.

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