When Debbie Wallace looks down the street, she sees blowing dust and broken bottles. She’d rather see something that welcomes people to the Cox Heights neighborhood in south Scottsdale and creates a great first impression. And it won’t be long before she gets her wish.
Wallace is a resident of Cox Heights at Hayden and Monte Vista roads. Cox Heights was one of two neighborhoods awarded money by the city for enhancements. The other was Scottsdale Estates at 82nd Street and Osborn Road.
The funds came from a $2 million allocation to improve neighborhoods south of Camelback Road that the city approved in 2004.
Once their applications were approved, the neighbors in each area came up with a list of items they want repaired.
In Cox Heights, they saw rusty light poles, sidewalks that needed to be wheelchair accessible and a dirt lot on the corner that brought down the whole look of the neighborhood.
Meanwhile, at Scottsdale Estates, sidewalks were cracked, fire hydrants blocked the walkway and a little grassy area just begged to be improved.
Since then, the neighborhoods have been able to complete many of the repairs, but both decided they wanted to add a little flair to the dirt lot and the pocket park.
At recent public meetings, the neighbors met with members of the Scottsdale Public Art program and with Tucson artist Mary Lucking.
In order to give Lucking a better idea of the neighborhoods’ identities, the community members were asked to assemble collages that represent their area.
Some collages included pictures of sunsets while others featured children and dogs.
Scottsdale Estates resident Stephen Varner said he would like to see the pocket park, which is a “little barren now,” transformed into a community area.
“We’d like to see a meeting area for people, a place for people to walk their dogs,” he said.
Lucking will spend the next couple months assembling drawings for the neighborhoods and will present her ideas sometime after Labor Day, said Public Art project manager Jana Weldon.
Lucking has designed art pieces all over the country, including Tempe and Tucson. She was the artist behind the signs near Arizona State University that looked like chalk boards and offered college students advice such as “Don’t eat tuna fish more than two times a week.”
“I think it’s important to make sure you end up with something that speaks in a way they appreciate and understand,” Lucking said of working on neighborhood art pieces.