Four Corners' crosswalks to be painted as piano keys


BENNINGTON — The crosswalks at the Four Corners are set to get a musical makeover.

The town has endorsed a resident's plan to paint piano keys inside the crosswalks at the four-way intersection downtown.

Polly van der Linde, owner and director of Sonatina International Piano Camps in Old Bennington, proposed the idea to the Select Board last week. Members unanimously endorsed it.

Van der Linde told the Banner in an interview on Tuesday that she wanted a project that celebrates the town's cultural history, and to have something unique for residents and visitors to enjoy. She said she will pay for materials and labor to paint the existing crosswalks as a keyboard.

Town Manager Stu Hurd confirmed the town will move forward on the project. Paint has been ordered and a schedule is to be determined, he said.

According to van der Linde, the idea was sparked by an event earlier this summer. Students in her summer course organized a surprise "flash mob" downtown each summer. A keyboard design painted on cardboard was placed on top of a crosswalk at Four Corners -- where North and South Streets (Route 7 and 9) meet Main Street.

"Who knew that 20,000 people were going to watch it," van der Linde said on Tuesday.

Robert Faley, administrator for the state Agency of Transportation's Bennington and Rutland districts, said the roads are both Class 1 town roads. The town must comply with state statues and regulations on pavement markings, including the 800-page Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD). The document, issued by the Federal Highway Administration, sets nationwide standards for pavement markings and traffic signs.

"Whatever the town decides to install will be their responsibility," Faley wrote in an email to the Banner.

Van der Linde has referenced a Sept. 8 Boston Herald article about the town. That article called Four Corners "the center of Bennington," and stated the town was "built on three cornerstones: history, the love and celebration of food and nature." Van der Linde said there's a fourth cornerstone -- the arts.

In a letter read out loud last week to the Select Board, van der Linde stated the project could create a buzz much like Moosefest generated. And it would entertain people as they wait for the red light to change.

She explained similar projects have been done in Keene, N.H. and Kalamazoo, Mich.

Van der Linde said she wanted to "ride the wave of enthusiasm" and have the crosswalks completed as soon as possible.

"Some might ask, why piano keys? Piano keys are suitably similar to common crosswalk patterns and they will add a unique accent representing the musical arts," van der Linde stated in her letter. She said other businesses and cultural instititions could be involved in a future crosswalk painting project.

— Contact Ed Damon at 802-447-7567, ext. 111.


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