Just The Point: Five fantastic fixes for Winters

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A Winters Express opinion column

By Richard Kleeberg
Special to the Express

Have you ever walked around Winters and seen a thing or two you wished they’d fix, remodel or add that would improve the look and feel of our fine City? I’ve got five things I’d do if I were in charge. Here are three of them — the remaining two will be described in my Just The Point column in an upcoming edition of the Express.

As you drive West toward the four-way stoplight at Railroad and Grant, one of the first things we all see is the ugly and frightening razor-wire topped chain fence that just dominates the north-east corner. And it’s the first thing visitors see, too!

My first project proposal is to hide that razor wire fence with with a line of 30 to 40 pine trees. We should choose a pine variety that grows only to 20 to 25 feet tall, and plant them in a long row all along the very front of the razor wire fence. A simple trench dug just below the surface could hold a professional drip irrigation system for the entire line of trees. Imagine how lovely this long stretch of the entrance to Winters would be after just five to 10 years. So which would you prefer: a long, long row of beautiful small pines or the decrepit and imposing razor wire fence?

The cost for a row of pine trees? Not really that much. Five foot tall pines can be purchased for $40 or less in bulk, and digging the simple straight line drip irrigation trench would not be expensive. And the City can pay the water bill — a good drip line for 40 trees uses very little water. And yes, I know that Caltrans might have an objection, but we could probably convince them to allow the trees to be planted. After all, it is far safer for an out-of-control car to run into a small tree trunk than to smash into steel fence poles sunk deep into concrete.

The second fix for today is for someone — the City, the property owner, the Downtown Business Association, perhaps all three — to get together and do something to hide the incredibly ugly mess of seven large garbage dumpsters that sit in a big clump in the center of the City parking lot, right across from the new Hotel Winters. Could anything be more unsightly, disgusting, and repelling than the presence of seven huge filthy trash bins, covered with graffiti, and often overflowing with smelly garbage? 

We can do better than that dreadful sight of multiple garbage bins! It’s certainly not the best way to welcome to all the locals and visitors who come downtown to enjoy our restaurants and wine tasting venues.

The solution is not complicated — build a fence! As long as the seven filthy garbage dumpsters are going to stay in the middle of a prime parking lot in the heart of downtown, it’s time to hide them. (And yes, the question of why the dumpsters inhabit such a visible spot downtown may be a great subject for a future column.)

It just would not be difficult — and not prohibitively expensive — to build a good-looking redwood fence to surround that awful collection of garbage dumpsters. Let’s build a fence, (which must include one or two swinging gates for garbage truck access), and put this long-time terrible eyesore out of sight.

My third project suggestion is to do something wonderfully artistic with a huge blank wall on the side of one of Mariani’s largest buildings that faces Railroad Ave. If you stand on Railroad Ave. — anywhere from Abbey Street all the way to Edwards Street — and look East to the big Mariani parking lots, you will see this imposing wall. It is a full block long; composed of eight huge sections of concrete.

Let’s get a huge mural painted on the wall of that building. It would be an impactful work of art that adds a terrific new vision and attraction in downtown Winters. That concrete wall at Mariani’s is about 220 feet long and nearly 20 feet high. Just think what a great artist could do with a mural this size. It could be, like, totally awesome! Does any other small City have anything like that to offer?

I know, of course, that Mariani would need to approve a mural being painted on the wall of their building. But hey, they need to paint the side of the building occasionally, anyway. Why just paint it when it could become an awesome Winters artwork?

In an upcoming edition, I will continue this column with a suggestion for vastly improved freeway signs on both 505 and the Railroad/Grant intersection. Did you know that between Taco Bell in the East part of town, and Berryessa Brew (way out West of town) there are at least 27 places to eat in Winters? Well, nobody driving by Winters knows that, either! And also: the Cupola. It’s time to bring back the historic symbol of the heart of downtown. See you next time for “Fantastic Fixes: Part-Two.”

To read more from Richard, visit JustThePoint.com.

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