The gayborhood will get a little gayer just in time for Pride. The Atlanta City Council on Monday approved the temporary installation of rainbow crosswalks at a busy Midtown intersection.
The resolution, sponsored by City Council member Kwanza Hall, enables the crosswalks for 10th Street and Piedmont Avenue for two weeks, paving the way for supporters to install them on Oct. 3 just days ahead of the city's Pride celebration.
“I'd like all the donors, sponsors and supports of the crosswalks to know and understand that we've still made history, but progress takes time. This is a step in the right direction,” Robert Sepulveda Jr., founder of the Atlanta Rainbow Crosswalks, said Tuesday in a prepared statement. “The crosswalks will be installed for Pride 2015. That is something we should all be so proud of.”
The resolution also puts an end – at least temporarily – to the back-and-forth between supporters and city officials, who apparently initially OK'd the crosswalks as a permanent installation but then pulled back when the Department of Public Works objected over safety concerns.
Sepulveda said the approval is an encouraging first step and plans to keep lobbying to make the rainbow crosswalks a permanent addition to the Midtown intersection.
“In the meantime we will be working with the Department of Public Works as well as the City of Atlanta to figure out the best permanent solution. I am hopefully that while the temporary Rainbow Crosswalks are down, the Department of Public Works will be able to better study and see the impact of these crosswalks,” he said.
On Monday, gay City Council member Alex Wan also expressed hope that the crosswalks would eventually become a permanent staple of the intersection.
“Please know that we are continuing to explore options that could make an installation permanent at that intersection, but the first priority is to get the initial project done before Pride,” Wan said in a Facebook post.
Sepulveda and other organizers met with supporters of the project during a reception on Thursday. He and fundraiser Wes Berry addressed concerns about the change in scope of the effort and offered refunds to supporters who donated to a permanent installation. Sepulveda also addressed critics of the project in a YouTube video on Saturday.
Sepulveda went public with his year-long quest for the crosswalks in July. The project gained initial city approval in August and organizers launched a fundraising campaign that quickly raised more than $44,000 – twice the amount they hoped for – to pay for the installation and maintenance of the permanent project. On Sept. 15, city officials formally notified Sepulveda that the crosswalks could be installed but only temporarily.
The crosswalks will be removed by Oct. 16. Atlanta Pride is set for Oct. 9-11.