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Greenspace beautification project launched downtown
SoVaNow.com / May 05, 2014The Board of Destination Downtown South Boston (DDSB) has initiated a program of three major improvements in the “greenscape” of Main Street.
With the cooperation and approval of Worth Harris Carter, chairman and CEO of Carter Bank & Trust and the South Boston Industrial Development Authority (IDA), the first in the series of “green space transformations” will be the approximately 7,000 square feet of open space adjacent to CB&T on the west side of Main. The property is owned by Carter Bank & Trust and the IDA.
Both CB&T and the IDA have often cooperated with DDSB in allowing the town to hold community events on the site, and Bob Cage sculptures have adorned the IDA section for many years.
Project One is called “Carter Green” and will involve new landscaping and the creation of a park-like environment with seating for the comfort and enjoyment of the community.
The initiative began in November after the Community Visioning Meeting conducted at the Higher Education Center. Town Manager, Ted Daniel, presented a schematic of the downtown area coupled with a comment referring to the open space next to the bank as “the missing tooth in the smile of downtown South Boston.”
Tommy and Jayne Elliott were among the more than 50 interested citizens attending. Tommy Elliott serves as chairman of the South Boston IDA and Jayne has been on the DDSB Board for several years.
“On our way home, we talked about what could be done to fill in that ‘missing tooth’,” said Jayne. In her past experience as vice president of university relations for Widener University, she spearheaded a major campus beautification program. “Projects like this require a ‘creative collective’ — that is willing partners with innovative ideas, commitment, time and money,” she said “I knew the DDSB Board had the ideas, the will, and the commitment. All we would need is more creative partners, more time and …. a bit more money.”
Now in its tenth year, DDSB’s official mission has been to work with South Boston merchants and the town to “educate, build consensus and create an environment that stimulates the downtown economy.”
According to Tamyra Vest, executive director, “This beautification plan is a perfect fit with our mission.” DDSB has been responsible for generating over $250,000 in grant and matching grant money in the past 10 years.
To build a bankroll for the “greenscape project”, Jayne Elliott began with her associates in The Global Friends Center and Destination Gallery, located across the street from the green space next to BISTRO 1888. As a committee of DDSB, the associates pledge any profit made from gallery sales to the betterment of downtown. Her associates, Frances Harrell, Scotty Felton, Diane Maiden, Cynthia Haugh, Hongqing Ye, Angela Lewis, Susan Reddy and Joanna Blackstock voted unanimously in December to support the beautification project and started the fund with $1,500.
With some sound and supportive advice from Harry and Jane Mapp, and a $1,500 start-up fund, the “greenspace enhancement” idea was submitted to the DDSB Board in January and was approved. Wayne Fuller, president at that time, suggested the addition of a Free Library Exchange concept, and Barney Newberry, board member, suggested the name of “Carter Green”.
The next step was to explore landscape improvement possibilities. Tony and Wanda Reaves of Reaves Lawn and Garden responded right away with a major in-kind contribution of close to $2,000 in plants and labor. Using their more than 29 years of experience serving Halifax County and environs, they made recommendations on trees and shrubs that would give color and beauty but require low annual maintenance.
In addition, they agreed to plant, mulch and prune every year. Wanda and Tony also serve on the Design Committee for DDSB. Phase One of the project began on April 8 and progress can be seen this week.
Bruce Anderson, of Anderson Lawn Care Service, Inc., has also been involved in Project One, helping with creative ideas. From Jayne Elliott’s early sketches, he created an enhanced photo illustration of how the area would look with landscaping and seating. Anderson has also generously offered to assist in some over-seeding and fertilizing on Carter Green, and has committed to assisting with groundscape improvements on Project Two, the street level area of the parking lot on the corner of Main and Charles Streets.
As the first phase of Carter Green gets under way, DDSB is actively pursuing additional community partners for all three projects. Participation and giving opportunities include in-kind contributions of money, labor and/or materials. All gifts are tax deductible and donors will be given a Receipt of Gift form by DDSB. Every donor for Carter Green will be honored and acknowledged on the engraved panels that will be applied to the steel sides of the benches.
Gene Haugh, new DDSB President and head of the Design Committee said, “Beautiful green spaces enrich the downtown environment. One of our many goals is to complement the architectural attributes of our downtown buildings with green areas that reflect the charm of historic park environments. We hope that many people get on board and support these projects.”
The Free Library Exchange box will be a next semester design/build project for Clint Johnson’s class. Janet Fuller and her granddaughter have already volunteered to oversee and maintain the adult and children’s reading materials. The box will be located at the end of the park area, with benches to sit and read.
As Phase One of “Carter Green” begins, Jayne Elliott said, “This is a Cinderella story. We know the beauty is there, under the scrub grass and the asphalt. It just takes more people like Mr. Carter, the South Boston IDA, Tony and Wanda, Bruce, Clint and his students, Andy and Mac, Harmon and Beth, Catesby and Charlie, the DDSB board and the many others who see the beauty, and want to make it happen.”
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