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Community Mural Project in Limbo

City Council will vote next week whether to give permanent facility status to a building slated for future sale. The building is currently home to the 10th Street Community Center, the desired location of a new community mural.

A Decoto and aims to instill pride in the community has been put on temporary hold.

The mural was to be painted along the face of what is becoming a vital spot for Decoto youth — the . The building, which is home to the popular , is a former fire station.

The problem is that the building, located at 33948 10th St., was never intended to be used as a resource center or gym. It was supposed to be sold to help pay for the construction costs of Fire Station No. 3 (now ).

Due to an unfavorable economic climate, the building was never sold, according to City Manager Larry Cheeves.

Last year, youth outreach workers claimed the site as a resource center. Despite its success, the building is still on the city’s surplus list for future sale. As a result, the building cannot be altered or given permanent use status without City Council approval.

The Council will vote on the matter next Tuesday, July 12.

Though an exact value was not determined, the site, comprising two residential lots, could be sold for several hundred thousand dollars, Cheeves said at the June 28 City Council meeting.

If sold, the boxing program would be relocated to a different site. The mural would have to find a new home as well.

Liliana Reynoso, the leader of the mural project, said it was important for the mural to be on that particular building.

“The boxing center has been a place of empowerment for our community,” said Reynoso, who is a member of the city’s Public Art Board and the president of the Art Association of the East Bay. “It’s very important to see this mural completed on that building because it will empower our community even more.”

Reynoso only learned of the building’s tangle in early June when she was going to present her final design before the Public Art Board.

The final design, a collage of ideas submitted by the 40 youth involved in the project, features imagery symbolic of the history of Union City.

Among the images are gladiolus fields, which were where Union Landing and Guy Emanuele Elementary School now stand, with hills and birds representing the native land. The face of an Ohlone woman will also be painted to represent the original settlers of the region. In the midst of those depictions is a BART train, symbolizing the change in the community.

“This is something a lot of community members have been looking forward to,” Reynoso said. It would be one of the few public murals in Union City, she added.

Regardless of the outcome of the vote at next Tuesday’s meeting, Reynoso said she would like to continue with the mural as planned — except it would be removable.

As a solution, the mural could be painted on large plywood panel and mounted onto the building, just like the mural alongside the , she said.

Using removable materials would require more money, an additional $1,000 on top of the $1,500 that is being provided via grant funds from the boxing program, Reynoso said.

While Reynoso is leading the push, the mural is first and foremost for the youth, she said.

“I want to provide opportunities in the arts for youth to have a positive effect on the community,” Reynoso said.

Enrique Cisneros, a youth volunteer, said the mural has given him a legal means of expression.

He was recently caught painting graffiti while a student at Conley-Caraballo High School and was referred to the mural program, where he saw “a bunch of students working hard, doing something for the community.”

“I met a lot of artists who say they like drawing and doing art but nobody sees it,” Cisneros said at the most recent City Council meeting.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for students and children who want to demonstrate their talents and express themselves.”

The next city council meeting will be held July 12 at 7 p.m. in the Council Chambers at 34009 Alvarado-Niles Rd.

Roman July 08, 2011 at 04:04 AM
Hope the city council does the right thing and keeps a positive resource in our Decoto neighborhood! We need as many positive things for our kids as possible!
G.W July 08, 2011 at 05:40 AM
I hope the council thinks of our kids not the money
Tim July 08, 2011 at 06:00 AM
Of course, we can always just raise taxes if money is an issue.

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