Founded 10 years ago, the Community Beautification program is funded by the Tompkins County hotel tax. The goal of the program is to improve the landscaping and appearance of places where tourists might go. In the City of Ithaca, this is accomplished through the efforts of a group of volunteers called the Beautification Brigade. Not so well known,Dan Klein explained to us,is the program’s rural beautification grants.
The money (which Dan assured us is piling up, ready to be handed out) must be used to beautify a highly visible place. What that place is is flexible-a public building, a park, a road edge-any place a case can be made that tourists might see it, even on private property. The local municipality must agree to the work, and a maintenance plan must be in place. Local governments are always in agreement, and why not? Their side of the deal is to front the money, then receive an immediate refund once the project is completed. The grants themselves must be “matched” by labor, money, materials or professional services provided by he community. Again, Dan says this easily accomplished-they WANT to give you the cash! What the project can be is even more flexible-flower beds, trees, roadside signs, flags,container plantings, wreaths…use your imagination. While in Ithaca the plantings are often quite (even too?) dense, rural areas are more often too sparse. Particularly if the installation is along a highway, it’s important to have a strong visual statement in order to be seen by passing vehicles.
We were shown a number of project examples from the local area I wish I could reproduce here. In fact, that’s the making of great garden tour! Try checking out what the Dryden Beautification Brigade has done-after Dan spoke Mary Kirkwyland showed us some of the incredible work they are doing. Then take a look around your community, get together with some buddies and contact Dan-spring is almost here!