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Riverdale unveils painted fire hydrants
by Bill Baldowski
May 02, 2013 04:27 PM | 3701 views | 0 0 comments | 19 19 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Michael Syphoe, executive director of the Riverdale Downtown Development Aurthority, sits beside one of the painted fire hydrants which is on display at Riverdale City Hall.
Michael Syphoe, executive director of the Riverdale Downtown Development Aurthority, sits beside one of the painted fire hydrants which is on display at Riverdale City Hall.
As executive director of the Riverdale Downtown Development Authority, Michael Syphoe is known for looking outside the box to bring something fresh and enjoyable to the city.

Recently, he has taken perhaps the dullest of inanimate objects, fire hydrants, and developed a program which not only adds color and designs on the hydrants without diminishing their main function but brings communities and neighborhoods closer by coloring them.

“To date, we have painted 41 of our fire hydrants with our goal being to paint a total of 75,” he said. “Our ultimate goal was for our residents and visitors to our city to see a softer side of Riverdale, while cultivating the true community spirit we have here.”

Syphoe credited the Riverdale Home Depot and the Utrecht Art Supply Store, also a Riverdale business, as well as Sam Flax Art Supply in Atlanta for its support in helping provide the paint and art materials for the project.

In addition, Syphoe thanked local and regional artists who took part in the hydrant painting program.

“Although this project was enjoyable, our partnering with Clayton County Public Schools and our communities to get this program going made it extra special,” he said.

Syphoe added the city encouraged its elementary school students to join in and, with the help of neighborhoods the schools serve, paint the fire hydrants around their respective schools in addition to those in the vicinity of the school.

Although the program began last September, Syphoe developed the idea while participating in a neighborhood assessment tour in Cleveland, Oh. five years ago.

“There, it was called Public Art in Cleveland and I immediately through of our city and how painting local fire hydrants would add to the city’s inviting, comfortable, hometown feeling,” he said.

Syphoe believes, with the negative perceptions some people outside the county have of Clayton, this project would enhance the “feeling of pride we, as Riverdale residents, have in our city as we share that pride with visitors.”

“Some people are so engrossed in the negative perceptions of Clayton County that they fail to see all the good things happening here,” he said, adding the project was coordinated through the Riverdale Downtown Development Authority.

As far as the colors and designs on the fire hydrants were concerned, Syphoe encouraged participating artists, whether they were adults or school children, “to be free-thinking and allow their imaginations run wild.”

The programs will continue this summer as Syphoe plans to design and color some 15 to 20 additional hydrants.

“It’s a labor of love for those in Riverdale and allows them to produce artistic displays that accentuate the way we feel about our city,” he added.

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