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Archives for June 26, 2013

SRIA budget gets larger when most are having budget cuts

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Updated: Tuesday, June 25 2013, 08:18 PM CDT
SANTA ROSA COUNTY   —  We hear a lot about budget cuts but Pensacola Beach has *more money to work with.
The Santa Rosa Island Authority is expected to submit their 2014 budget tomorrow  and it’s nearly a million dollars higher than last year.

How the island authority plans to spend the extra cash.
“The Santa Rosa Island Authority has a lot of projects in the works to improve Pensacola Beach.  Some of their ideas include smaller things like replacing picnic tables to larger projects like building a new Visitor’s Center”

If the weekend crowds on the beach aren’t enough to prove beach business is booming.
Check out the Santa Rosa Island Authority’s budget proposal for next year.

John Pinzino – Island Realty
“We’re getting further away from the hurricanes, and it’s kind of out of people’s thoughts.  Most of the property out here has been rebuilt, and everything is back up now.”
The Island Authority is expecting nearly a million dollars ‘more’ income compared to last year,
Which brings their total budget to a little over 9-million dollars.
Nathan Holler, owner of “Doghouse Deli” says this has been a record year.
“We all worked real hard, we’ve fought some hard times with the oil spill and now our work is really paying off so it’s great to hear the Island Authority is up that much”

The Island Authority’s money comes from fees paid by homeowners and businesses.
..not bed taxes, tolls or sales taxes.
The SRIA plans to spend around 600,000 dollars on new infrastructure.
“It’s great the Island Authority is investing right back in the beach.  As a business owner we’re glad to hear.”

The projects include a 300,000 dollar Visitors Center in the Casino Beach parking lot.
 Water tower maintenance, beach nourishment, dredging projects and new picnic tables.

Kavontae Smalls
“The Santa Rosa Island Authority says when they created their 2014 budget, they designed it so they could keep expenses low so they could afford more infrastructure projects.”
Escambia County is also investing more than a million dollars on beach improvements.
Updates to the area near the toll plaza include more turning lanes and a pedestrian cross walk

 And they expect to start a major landscaping project next month.SRIA budget gets larger when most are having budget cuts

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Santa Rosa Island Authority to submit beach budget tomorrow

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Village’s blueprint of future may be near – Winston

CLEMMONS — The section of Lewisville-Clemmons Road south of Interstate 40, the longtime heart of Clemmons, may be in for a makeover.

Officials with the village are in the early stages of developing an overlay district, which would subject businesses along the road to higher zoning standards than are required now.

Redeveloping and redesigning Lewisville-Clemmons Road is listed as one of the top five priorities for implementation in the village’s comprehensive plan, which was approved by the council in 2010. Meant to serve as a blueprint for the future, the plan was developed after more than a year of community input.

“The comprehensive plan provides an opportunity for incremental change on Lewisville-Clemmons Road,” said Megan Ledbetter, the village’s planner.

Overlay districts typically enhance the appearance of businesses by establishing standards for such things as sidewalks, landscaping and parking.

What an overlay district would mean for Lewisville-Clemmons Road is still in the discussion phase. Ledbetter and Gary Looper, the village manager, recently met with members of the Lewisville-Clemmons Chamber of Commerce to give a broad overview of what an overlay district would involve and solicit ideas.

They also are continuing talks with small business owners through this week.

Ledbetter will gather the information and present it to the village council.

“The council hasn’t made any decision on what the overlay district will be comprised of,” Looper said. “We’re going back to the chamber of commerce to try to generate some interest and ask them, ‘Why don’t you tell us what you think?’ It impacts, hopefully, the long-term viability of businesses south of I-40 because we don’t want it to become a lot of empty businesses. But how that transpires, we really don’t know yet.”

The village does have the statutory authority to require businesses to make certain changes when they redevelop or update their property. For example, when the Taco Bell burned down, the owners had to adhere to a new streetscape ordinance that required them to build a sidewalk and add landscaping.

The overlay district would not address traffic patterns or safety issues on the road, Looper said.

Because the Clemmons economy relies so heavily on retail, it makes sense for the village to investigate ways to help businesses on Lewisville-Clemmons Road south of Interstate 40, Mayor John Bost said.

That stretch of the road has been the village’s historic commercial center, but businesses and development have been migrating north of the interstate, which is home to Village Pointe, a development that will include a mix of shops and residences in an environment that promises to be more aesthetically pleasing and driver friendly than what exists on Lewisville-Clemmons Road. The road has dozens of curb cuts and no median, making left-hand turns hazardous.

“Something has to be done, I believe, to retain the market south of I-40 and, if in fact redevelopment is to occur, then we have to be involved in planning, if not incentivizing. And an overlay district gives you the license to do that,” Bost said.

Paying for changes required in an overlay district vary. Clemmons has a limited source of money because its property tax, according to its charter, can’t exceed 15 cents for every $100 of value.

More likely, an overlay district would involve a mix of public and private funds, Looper said.

“We’re still limited in how much we can share in the costs,” he said.

Voters could approve additional funding from the village with a bond referendum.

However the overlay district takes shape, Bost said he hopes the community will be involved. A bond referendum to make changes to Lewisville-Clemmons Road was overwhelmingly rejected by voters in 2010.

“We want to make sure the community feels ownership of it,” he said.

Joanna Lyall, the co-chairman of the Lewisville-Clemmons Chamber of Commerce, said it’s too early to say how members feel about an overlay district.

“We are still in the learning stages,” Lyall said.

(336) 727-7420

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Natick Housing Authority’s renovated apartments ready for tenants

Residents this week began moving into newly renovated Natick Housing Authority apartments, as the agency makes progress toward decreasing the number of vacant units.

Acting Executive Director Eileen Merritt said about six new tenants are moving in every day this week as contractors complete a roughly $300,000 project to renovate 27 elderly and family apartments, mostly in Cedar Gardens.

“They’re just about 98 percent completed with the work,” Merritt told the authority’s board Tuesday. “They did a great job.”

That work varied from apartment to apartment, but generally included new appliances, kitchen cabinets and bathroom fixtures. Workers also replaced or improved flooring, among other tasks, she said.

State money designed to turn over vacant apartments so they can be rented again funded most of this project, but the authority plans to use some of its reserves to possibly renovate 19 other vacant apartments.

The authority is also finishing a project to renovate two apartments at Cedar Gardens to make them handicapped accessible with special cabinets, showers and other elements to make it easier for people with disabilities. It is also working on replacing old boilers.

Merritt said she is exploring hiring a contractor to handle painting and cleaning of future units as they become vacant, allowing maintenance staff to continue to focus on other day-to-day tasks.

Several Cedar Gardens residents said Tuesday they are glad to see the apartments renovated and other curb appeal projects such as painting and landscaping. Residents recently helped with mulching and landscaping a bed near the community center.

Charlotte Moorer said she is glad to see fewer vacant apartments because empty ones can attract squatters.

“I’m so thrilled to see these apartments filled,” she said as she sat in the shade by the community center.

Brian Benson can be reached at 508-626-3964 or


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The Gardner Museum’s ‘Composite Landscapes’ exhibit looks at the art of …

Experimental fish farm along the rue de Rivoli, Jardin des Tuileries, Paris

Despite what the name might imply, there won’t be any lawnmowers present in Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum’s new exhibit ‘Composite Landscapes: Landscape as a Photomontage.’ Rather, the exhibit defines landscape architecture and explores the distinction between landscaping and gardening. The former, as it turns out, is an entirely more artistic botanical enterprise.

“Composite Landscapes” reclaims landscape architecture as rooted in art, and the mind and imagination. “We can imagine where and therefore how we live. “These pieces convey the conceptual nature of landscape architecture,” says s Charles Waldheim, Chair of the Department of Landscape Architecture at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design. “But you don’t have to be interested in landscape architecture.  We want it to be accessible to all museum goers and show the fun behind the creations.”

“Landscaping is specifically human, it’s hard to imagine us without it,” Waldheim continues. “But though all cultures are involved with gardening, which involves the use of plant materials, not all cultures are involved in landscaping, which is spacial.”

The first landscape architects, he says, were artists imagining space.

“Landscape first emerged in painting in western Europe, particularly in the British Isles,” Waldheim explains. “In the 19th century, landscape architecture was a new profession, which fomented in and around Boston and the East Coast. It started in the public realm. The Fens is a good example. It involves the design and shape of a city. In the 1830s, it spun off and really was the beginning of city planning.”

A landscape architect, then, doesn’t necessarily have to have a background in or diverse knowledge of plants.

“Landscape architects work internationally and consult with plant experts locally,” he says. “It’s inconceivable that someone would have knowledge of local plants in the international market place.”

“This is why this exhibit is important,” he adds. “Landscape architecture begins with something that is drawn and involves planning common ground. It exists in the public realm, not in our private gardens. The term has been adapted to homes and leads to categorical confusion that we want to nudge away.”

If you go

June 27-September 2
Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
280 The Fenway, Boston
$15, 617-566-1401

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Rockford Gains International Exposure through UK Contest

ROCKFORD (WIFR) — The Rockford Area Convention and Visitors Bureau (RACVB) has announced that Rockford – known as the City of Gardens – is at the center of a competition for landscape architecture students at Gloucestershire University in the United Kingdom. Using Rockford as inspiration, the students designed garden concepts that were judged by a panel of experts from Rockford. The winning design will be featured at the Malvern Autumn Garden Show in Malvern, Worcestershire in the UK this fall, which is expected to draw 64,000 people.
The RACVB has a dedicated representative in the UK to promote the region and build relationships. This project was a result of that activity.

“As the City of Gardens, we were thrilled Gloucestershire University focused their competition on Rockford,” said Lindsay Arellano, Rockford Area Convention and Visitors Bureau. “Our goal is to gain awareness for the region and tout Rockford as a tourist destination. Having the winning design on display with Rockford’s name on it speaks volumes to the thousands of people who will be in attendance at the show.”

Five Rockford garden design concepts were considered for the competition. The students each made a two-minute video presentation highlighting the details of their design. The videos are featured on the RACVB-UK YouTube channel and can be viewed here. The judges from Rockford included Tyler Smith, President of Tyler’s Landscaping and Rockford Park District Commissioner, Tim Gruner, Curator for Anderson Japanese Gardens and Jim Wojtowicz, Landscape Architect for Klehm Arboretum. The judges selected Jake Poloni and Steve Mann as the winners of the competition.
“I was excited to see so much creativity focused on this concept,” said Tyler Smith, President of Tyler’s Landscaping. “Each design group had a unique perspective on how to best represent our great city. I applaud all of the designers for how well they researched and incorporated our history into their projects.”

Poloni and Mann now have the opportunity to build a 15 foot by 15 foot replica of the garden to be displayed at the prestigious Malvern Autumn Garden Show. To learn more about the Malvern Autumn Garden Show, visit

“We really appreciated the opportunity and challenge of creating a garden to celebrate the city of Rockford and look forward to bringing the design to life at the Malvern Autumn Show,” said Jake Poloni, one of the winning student designers. “Our main source of inspiration for the garden was the striking difference in the layout of the countryside around Rockford to that around where we study in England. Additional research into the history of Rockford and features of the city as it is today informed the other elements incorporated into the garden.”

“The British are renowned for their love of gardening, as shown by the millions of visitors to garden shows every year,” said Yolanda Fletcher, Managing Director of Cellet Marketing and Public Relations. “As the RACVB UK tourist board we are tasked with developing innovative and creative ways of promoting Rockford and are very excited about this project. The Malvern Autumn Show provides a great opportunity to bring together consumers, students, experts and travel companies to showcase the fantastic garden attractions in Rockford with the intention of driving holiday bookings to the area.”

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Vermont backyard gardening tips

— In her book, “Trowel and Error”, author Sharon Lovejoy covers over 700 gardening shortcuts, tips, and home remedies for plant problems.

Under the category of tools, consider these ideas and items:

• Use a mixture of equal parts white vinegar, rubbing alcohol, and water to scrub and clean dirty tools and white salts residue from pot rims.

• Old kitchenware can be reused, such as kitchen tongs for picking up prickly plants or stinging nettles, grapefruit knives for weeding containers, and apple corers for “dibbling” in small bulbs and plants.

• Heavy-duty paper clips (the kind that hold stacks of paper together) have many uses, such as holding shade cloth to frames, or tightening glove cuffs to keep out unwanted insects and soil.

• Keep a used soap dispenser, filled with mineral oil, near your tools; after done for the day, wipe dirt from tools using a scouring pad if needed, then wipe with the oil.

• Save those wide-mesh tomato or fruit baskets (as you often get with strawberries). Line next spring with paper, then fill with soil, before sowing seeds of melons, squash or cucumbers. Then plant the entire basket, the roots being able to grow through the mesh openings.

• Use old colanders and laundry baskets to harvest produce, then wash with the hose outdoors to save a mess and clogging sinks with dirt indoors.

• Use Velcro tape for attaching vines to surfaces.

• To keep garden twine from getting tangled, place in an old coffee or grated cheese container, then guide the string through a hole in the top. An old watering can serves similarly, the twine coming out through the spout.

• Mark inch and foot marks on handles of tools, such as hole diggers, shovels, and hoes, to know how deep to dig or spacing for transplants for instance.

• Laminate seed packets, then attach to popsicle sticks or tongue depressors for garden labels. Cut strips of old miniblinds for labels to write on with permanent marker.

These are merely a sampling of the ideas from Lovejoy, with other categories on home potions, attracting allies to help with pests, success with seeds, soil-related tips including composts and mulches, and indoor plants.

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Top tips for making your garden wildlife-friendly

“It used to be ‘splat, splat, splat’, but now I barely need to clean my visor!” This has been the experience of a motorcycling friend, noticing the long-term decline in the number of insects he encounters while on his bike. It may be anecdotal, but it mirrors the wealth of scientific data revealing the inexorable erosion of so much of Britain’s wildlife.

There are many reasons for these declines, and combatting them requires action on many fronts, from ensuring the right political policies are in place to help farmers look after the countryside, to protecting the rarest habitats and their wildlife on nature reserves.

Much of this falls to nature conservation charities such as the RSPB, but it is increasingly recognised that gardens also have an important role to play for a whole host of threatened wildlife, from hedgehogs to house sparrows to toads. It means we can all play an active role in giving nature a home.

In case you think this is about letting your garden become weed-strewn and “wild” – think again. A neat, tended garden can – with care and thought – be just as good for wildlife. Nor is it about setting aside a little corner. It is quite possible to do things throughout your garden that help wildlife without compromising everything else you want your garden to be.

Each of Britain’s thousands of species of garden wildlife has a particular set of ecological requirements. And, if we pare it back to basics, there are two simple things that will have an immediate impact:

Planting the gaps

Every garden probably has an area that is a “plant desert”, be it patio or decking, bare fence or wall, shed or garage roof. Adding greenery to any of those areas will help.

Just add water

A birdbath will do as a starter, but if you can expand that to a pond, so much the better. It will host a whole range of different creatures, as well as providing a place for many land animals to drink and bathe.

For maximum effect, the following steps will turn your fledgling “home for nature” into a des-res:

Plant perfection

While almost all plants will do some good for wildlife, they vary in their value. Try to grow those that just can’t stop giving, be it in pollen, nectar, seeds, berries, or tasty foliage. There are all sorts of gorgeous garden plants that do exactly that.

Spatial diversity

That’s just a posh term for offering different rooms for different guests. Aim to provide a rich mix of “wildlife real estate” including trees, shrubs and flower-rich borders, creating everything from damp, shady retreats to glorious sun-baked hotspots. And if you have a lawn, why not allow some of it to grow long? It can look great, especially when creatively dissected and outlined by mown pathways.

Cut the chemicals

When I say chemicals, I really mean insecticides and herbicides. Anything that removes links in the food chain will have a damaging knock-on effect all along it.

Glorious decadence

The basis of garden fertility and of much of the web of life is when plants decay, be it wood, bark, leaves or flowers. Compost heaps, log piles, leaf litter and bark mulches all provide warm, damp, food-filled hideaways for a whole host of creatures.

Supplementary food

We humans keep the harvest from most of the landscape for our own needs, so it is no wonder many birds turn to us for a bit of supplementary help at bird tables and feeders – for them it can be a lifeline throughout the year.

Keeping the planet in mind

You don’t want to undo your efforts by using peat-based compost or too much water, damaging wildlife-rich habitats in the process. Understanding your environmental impact beyond the garden fence is vital.

Do some – or ideally all – of these simple steps and you really will be building homes for nature. For more inspiration and to share your successes and ideas, go to the RSPB’s Giving Nature a Home website.

• Adrian Thomas is an RSPB nature reserve manager and author of the award-winning book Gardening for Wildlife

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Gardening for Geeks: A book with tips worth knowing

If you read enough gardening books, you’ll pull out a few tips or tricks. But they often contain a lot of techniques developed in the author’s own yard, which may or may not be useful to you.

I am as guilty of this as anyone in my gardening columns, but I do try to point out that what works in my particular micro-climate and soil profile may not work for you.

What I really like to find in a gardening book is well-reasoned, evidence-based advice on how to do particular things and the physical requirements of plants that I want to grow (or tried to grow and failed for reasons that are not yet obvious to me).

The best book for food gardeners in southwestern B.C. is Steve Solomon’s Growing Vegetables West of the Cascades. He has since moved to Tasmania, so the book in all likelihood will not be updated again.

But I have been thumbing through a more recent text, Gardening for Geeks, which appeals to me because it is so instructive.

The author Christy Wilhelmi lives in Los Angeles and like all California-based gardening writers, she undoubtedly has unique challenges of her own. Ordinarily that makes their books useless to British Columbians. But not so for Wilhelmi.

Her advice about arranging crops from shortest to tallest, south to north to take advantage of the sun’s rays works no matter what the latitude. She includes the important exception for tender lettuce in the heat of summer: plant lettuces to the north of taller plants or trellised vines to protect them from full sun.

Measurements and sketches will guide you to soundly designed garden boxes, raised beds, paths and simple garden structures such as tomato cages. Instructions for building a hot compost heap and a worm box are easy to follow.

Wilhelmi zips through basic introductions to double-digging, biodynamic growing and French intensive agriculture – just enough so that you will know whether or not to seek out more detailed instruction.

I also like that she gives good basic information about how to plant and grow a couple of dozen common vegetables from arugula and beets to spinach and squash, plus a chapter on herbs.

If you are just starting out and aren’t quite sure what kind of gardener you are yet, Gardening for Geeks will probably help you figure it out.

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