Welcome to A Stone's Throw, a new blog from European Stone Masonry LLC. Every month or so we'll focus on stonework, history and happenings from around Raleigh and maybe farther afield. This month we highlight a local project that's taken over 2 years and lots of twists.
It took a village, OK really an ITB neighborhood, to get this stonework project off the ground. But this week Belvidere Park broke ground on a new plan to improve their community. Two stone columns will mark the entrance to the downtown Raleigh subdivision with a sign and the date the first homes were built - 1948. Also, a stone bench is planned for a common area at the intersection of Vale Street and Plainview Avenue.
This project started over 2½ years ago when the Belvidere Park neighborhood association received a grant from the City of Raleigh to improve the entryway along Dennis Avenue off Capital Boulevard. The subdivision originally had brick columns that unfortunately didn't stand the test of time. One was struck by a car and removed. The other was in disrepair and desperately needed a masonry makeover. After years of neglect, it was listing heavily and was shrouded in a tangle of volunteer shrubs and broken bottles. Not a pretty picture.
However, the neighborhood would need the City's permission to replace the crumbling entryway signage. Not an easy task in Raleigh. Today's sign ordinances don't have provisions for replacing older signs that were built before the current encroachment rules. Permission required a right-of-way encroachment agreement, but first the Raleigh City Council would have to waive the usual insurance requirements.
Flash forward several meetings and months later when City planning staff granted approval for new stonework and landscaping in the right-of way. Next, there were meetings with the sign department to obtain the building permits for the 30” wide x 6' high columns and a low stone bench.
Over the months, Charlene Willard, Community Specialist with Raleigh's Community Services Department, was instrumental in maintaining momentum, and neighbors helped with everything from the landscaping plan to decisions about style and the script on the sign. Time passed... babies were born. Eventually, final approval was obtained for the stonework and a bench that would put the “park” in Belvidere Park.
The new year ushered in the final phase of the project – construction of the columns by European Stone Masonry LLC and plantings by homeowners later this spring. So stay in touch and we'll keep you posted with updates on the small stonework project that brought a community together.
If you grew up in this 200+ home subdivision, feel free to share your story or history of the “The Park” as one elderly resident fondly called the neighborhood. Please leave your comments below.
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