Castro Valley, an unincorporated community in Alameda County, has long been without clearly visual demarcations designating it as a place. That’s about to change with a mural at Redwood Road and Highway 580 that clearly identifies Castro Valley as a destination, and Castro Valley residents are encouraged to be part of the process.
More than 20,000 cars a day pass through the Redwood Road gateway. The mural will enhance the traffic hub’s visual appeal while welcoming people to downtown, the library, the Farmer’s Market and BART. Like the successful mural art in surrounding communities, the goal is to inspire and promote community pride and a sense of place.
In 2015, Castro Valley Matters (CVM) members began considering seeking public art to help define the community and promote its assets. A Community Identifier (a Caltrans term) Mural, designating Castro Valley as a place, fit the bill. The proposed mural would have the simple wording “Castro Valley,” with images of Castro Valley surrounding the lettering.
With help from Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley’s office, CVM held numerous planning sessions during 2015-2016 to develop the mural idea and promote its benefits. CVM was pleased to discover enthusiastic support from community members, artists, Assemblyman Bill Quirk’s office, Alameda County Public Works and the Alameda County Arts Commission. In November 2015 the Eden Area Chamber of Commerce and the Castro Valley MAC endorsed the mural concept.
Remaining challenges were funding and sponsorship by a public entity as required by Caltrans, the owner of the overpass. To address these concerns and promote public art in unincorporated parts of the county, Supervisors Miley and Wilma Chan proposed an official mural project to include not only Castro Valley, but also Ashland/Cherryland and San Lorenzo.
In August 2016, the Alameda County Board of Supervisors designated the Community Identifier Mural Project as an official project of the Alameda County Art Commission, and in September 2016 commission members approved the preliminary program plan.
The estimated cost for each mural is $135,000. The Castro Valley mural has a $75,000 shortfall, for which the county is seeking additional funding. The Arts Commission will manage the projects, provide community outreach, and promote community involvement in choosing the art. Painting is estimated to begin in 2018!
Community involvement is a vital part of the project. Castro Valley residents are encouraged to take the Community Survey about the project, available on November 15. Results will be shared with the public and with the artists. Residents will also have opportunities to serve on the Art Selection Committee. Interest forms will be available November 15 and are due January 15. Community round tables are proposed beginning March 2017.
Though the process might appear long and daunting, remember that you’re being invited to one of the rare opportunities to help visibly shape the future of Castro Valley. With inspiration from Castro Valley Matters and a coalition of supporters, the community can now have meaningful input and look forward to a mural that makes Castro Valley a more welcoming place, inspires community pride, and promotes civic engagement.
Follow the CVM blog site for updates, opportunities to comment and ways to become involved in planning for Castro Valley’s mural.