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Archives for October 19, 2015

What’s in a stadium?

You could have a say in what happens next to Grand Haven’s Waterfront Stadium.

The city will host a community input forum on Wednesday at the Grand Haven Community Center, 421 Columbus Ave. A stakeholder meeting is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. and a community engagement meeting is planned for 6 p.m.. Both are open to the public.

“We’re having this meeting to make sure everyone finds this very transparent,” City Manager Pat McGinnis said. “Once we start asking people for money, they want to know what it is we’re building.”

The meetings will allow the public to weigh in on what they want to see in an improved Waterfront Stadium, with a final redevelopment plan being sent on to City Council for consideration. 

“We’re needing to get something in front of City Council to say ’that’s what we want to build,’” McGinnis said.

City officials will take the input gathered at Wednesday’s meetings and, combined with prior planning and design efforts, likely bring a recommendation to council in November.

The city recently accepted a $31,350 grant from the Grand Haven Area Community Foundation for preliminary design services for the stadium. They hired the Johnson Hill Land Ethics Studio of Ann Arbor to conduct the design.

“We’ve gotten some estimates from landscape architects and it’s north of $3 million,” McGinnis said of the estimated cost for redoing the stadium. “It’s quite an elaborate project that’s being proposed.”

Ideas being considered include a new building next to the Depot Museum to house things like a green room and restroom, a stage, new landscaping, and tiered lawn-style seating in place of the metal bleachers.

”We’re just trying to make it a more quality experience,“ McGinnis said.

The stadium would be the next in a line of improvements that have taken place on the city’s waterfront. The boardwalk was rebuilt in 2008, the city renovated Chinook Pier in 2009, the Musical Fountain was rebuilt in 2012, the lighthouses preserved in 2013 and 2014, efforts are underway to preserve the Chinook Pier coal tipple, and the Municipal Marina has undergone improvements in 2006 and again the past two years.

McGinnis noted that City Council’s approval for what they’d like to see in a project would make it easier to begin fundraising efforts.

”It seems like when you define it and show what the benefit is, people are more supportive,“ he said. “We’ve got to get some capital fundraising going on, and we’ve got some grants we need to apply for.”

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Crosswoods businesses facing new crossroad

In May 2014, some Crosswoods business leaders got together to talk about the future of the
commercial area.

“It needed a shot in the arm,” said Kathryn Paugh, president and CEO of the Worthington Chamber
of Commerce, which has Crosswoods businesses among its members.

The Crosswoods area, on the Far North Side of Columbus, is a gateway to the city. At the busy
I-270/Rt. 23 interchange, the area creates an impression of the overall vitality of the community,
she said.

But how do you ensure that businesses thrive there?

The business leaders contacted Ohio State University’s Knowlton School of Architecture’s city
and regional planning section for help, and an instructor and 14 graduate students set out this
fall to create a blueprint of the future for the area.

They’ll roll out a final plan on Dec. 8.

Some ideas include creating a special-improvement district where property owners are assessed
fees to pay for things such as landscaping, maintenance and security. Another includes a striping
plan for the acres of pavement in hopes of making the area safer for pedestrians and

“There are some property-maintenance issues there. Massive surface parking lots,” said Chad
Gibson, an associated faculty member at the Knowlton School who is also a city planner for Upper

He said capital improvements will come if a special-improvement district is formed at

Sidewalks and better lighting also are being considered for the plan.

“There are barely any sidewalks, no marked crosswalks, no bike paths,” Gibson said. “It’s just
kind of a mess in there.”

The students say they can clean things up.

“We want to be able to connect the hotels to all the businesses,” said Brandon Creagan, one of
the graduate students.

City officials will consider the students’ recommendations, said Quinten Harris, Columbus’
deputy director of jobs and economic development. “Things can be improved. We’d love to have 100
percent occupancy,” he said.

Crosswoods is a mix of offices, restaurants, hotels and other businesses, anchored by the Marcus
Crosswoods Cinema. But it also has a growing number of apartments, including Stafford Place, a
complex being built by Preferred Living and scheduled to open this year.

Brittany Back has lived for six months at the Central Park apartments, a stone’s throw from
several restaurants. But she said she never walks.

“It’s just too dangerous,” said Back, 23, who was walking her dog on a lawn outside the

She said she would like some traffic-calming measures put in, to “get the attention” of

Stephanie Hoskins, the community director of Prescott Place apartments, said she’d like to see
sidewalks and better lighting.

“Our residents really like walking to a lot of things around here: restaurants, bars, the movie
theater,” Hoskins said.

Crosswoods’ energy has recently been sapped by the massive Ohio Department of Transportation
project to rebuild the I-270/Rt. 23 interchange, which includes a traffic-carrying trench.

“We saw happy hour disappear for the year,” said Karl Voltz, manager for J. Gilbert’s, a
Crosswoods restaurant.

But customers say they are returning now that the trench is open, he said.

Judy Lynam, general manager of the Courtyard by Marriott, was among those spearheading the
effort to bring in the OSU students.

“They’re putting together a wonderful package on how to improve the area to draw people to
Crosswoods,” Lynam said.

“We just don’t want it to go downhill … an area of Columbus that develops into another
Continent,” she said, referring to the struggling North Side commercial and residential area just
west of the I-71/Rt. 161 interchange.

Lynam said she believes Crosswoods hotels have lost business to the Polaris area.

Jim Palmisano, who leads the Far North Columbus Communities Coalition, said he wants to make
sure the destinations there remain vital.

He said one improvement he’d like to see is better signage.

“Nobody knows where anything is,” Palmisano said. “There are some outstanding restaurants that
no one seems to know about.”

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Arbutus residence lights up for Halloween

Kathy Miller’s Brewster Street home is decked out for the holiday. There are lights strung around her porch railing and plenty of ornaments in the lawn and landscaping.

But Miller’s efforts aren’t for Christmas or Independence Day, the holidays that perhaps get the most attention in Arbutus. It’s all for Halloween.

“It’s our Christmas,” Miller said. “It is my favorite holiday.”

In the 29 years she has lived on Brewster, near the corner of Oakland Road, the eccentric Halloween decorating has kind of developed a life of its own, she said. In the beginning, she and her husband kept it simple. They would just put some corn and hay decorations up, she said.

“It just escalated from there,” Miller said.

Today, bats hang from her porch ceiling, ghosts and tombstones are planted in the rowhouse lawn and spiders climb the porch railing.

“I’m not even finished yet,” Miller said. “I just bought some other things.”

In addition to her affection for the holiday, there’s an added pressure in Miller’s neighborhood to get into the holiday spirit. The streets southeast of Arbutus Middle School are prime trick-or-treating territory every Oct. 31.

With kids dropped off in the neighborhood by the carload, many neighbors said they choose to sit outside with their bucket of candy rather than have to continuously answer the door all night.

“It’s like one big party,” said Miller, whose grandkids come to her house to do their trick-or-treating.

Amy Decker, who lives on Brewster Street, said she underestimated just how big of a deal Halloween is in Arbutus when she first moved into the neighborhood in 2008. But after running out of candy just an hour an a half into the night that year, she said she’ll never make that mistake again.

“People bus them in,” she said.

“You could take a small loan out for Halloween,” joked Amy Zinkand, who lives a couple blocks up Brewster from Decker. To try to reduce the financial burden, she said she usually starts stockpiling candy a bag at a time weeks in advance of the holiday.

“You can easily spend $100 on Halloween candy and you’ll still run out,” she said.

Zinkand also gets in the Halloween spirit early, getting up her decorations, which take up most of her yard, by early October.

“Each year I’ve always decorated, it’s just gotten bigger and bigger,” she said.

Zinkand has always loved lights, but her boyfriend, Andy Miller, has taken the display to a new level, she said. Zinkand searches Pinterest for ideas, and Miller, who works in construction, builds the decorations. This year, the couple designed and built a pallet fence to go around the front yard.

Zinkand and Miller are far from alone in their devotion to Halloween decorations.

More than 157 million Americans will celebrate Halloween this year, the National Retail Federation’s Halloween Consumer Spending Survey revealed. Total spending on the holiday is expected to hit $6.9 billion, according to the survey, with individual spending predicted to average $74.34, split between costumes, candy and decorations. The numbers are down slightly from 2014 spending, but still good enough to rank Halloween fourth in spending among American holidays. Only on Christmas, Thanksgiving and Easter do Americans spend more, the NRF said.

Around the corner from Zinkand, on Dolores Avenue, Halloween is second to none for Daniel Gartrell and his wife, Blanche.

After blowing a fuse last year, the family had an electrician increase the capability of their home to support the estimated 200 sets of lights they use in their Halloween and Christmas displays.

“Our attic is 95 percent lights,” he said.

Gartrell said he likes to get his decorations up by Oct. 1 in order to enjoy them for as long as possible. The process, he said, is time-consuming. The lights have to be wrapped carefully around the trees and porch railings so that they don’t break in the wind and every ghost must be hand-stuffed. Usually, Gartrell said, he does a little bit of work on the display each night to distribute the workload.

His display has gotten so popular, he said, that he now gets visitors who pass by just to see him setting up.

“We cause traffic jams out here sometimes,” he said. “But it’s worth it because the kids enjoy it, people like it.”

Down the street, at Jean Simmons’ house on Stormont Circle, Halloween night is the biggest night of the year.

Since the 1990s, Simmons and her husband, Wayne, have been hosting a Halloween dinner for between 100 and 150 friends on the night of Oct. 31.

“We do an open-door policy,” she said.

Halloween is such a big deal at her house, she said, that she and her husband have even declined vacation offers because they conflicted with the holiday. Wayne, a firefighter, takes off every Halloween, no matter what day of the week the holiday falls on.

Halloween 2015

The hunt for the perfect decorations, she said, is a year-round project. Some of the best decorations they have didn’t come from a party store or Halloween outlet, but rather are discarded medical supplies, like fake limbs used to practice surgical techniques, she said. And it’s not just her and her husband on the lookout for useful items. Friends and family have been known to deliver decorations at all times of the year, she said.

“People see things, and they just pick them up and drop them off,” she said.

The pair even has a method for greeting trick-or-treaters. For little kids, Simmons said she meets them to give them some candy, but the big kids are greeted by her husband, who Simmons said loves a good scare.

“He likes to scare the parents who bring the kids,” Simmons said.

Having grown up in Relay, Simmons said she used to come trick-or-treating in that neighborhood of Arbutus when she was little. Although she and her husband did not chose to live there based on the holiday spirit, it wasn’t a drawback, she said.

“It can be crazy,” she said. “But it’s for the kids.”

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Green Design: New House Raises Tilapia, Monitors Water Use

A university team competing in the recent Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon competition has built a house that runs on rainwater and sunshine. What, no love? Called NexusHaus, it was on display at the recent competition in Irvine, Calif., according to an article in Builder Online.

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The team, University of Texas at Austin and Germany’s Technische Universitat Munchen, wanted water conservation to be a central part of the house design, because the drought in Central Texas could before long reach the same urgency as California’s, particularly because of Texas’ population boom, as the article noted.

The 70-plus design students on the project aimed for the house residents to use 25 gallons of water per person a day–this compares with a traditional home’s use of about 100 gallons per person a day. Their ways to reduce water use included using a Bloomberg dishwasher, which uses 4 gallons of water for each cycle, and an Equator clothes washer, which uses 9.5 gallons, said the article.

In the house, water from the shower, bathroom sink and clothes washer is filtered and used again in a drip irrigation system, which allows up to 75 gallons of graywater a day for landscaping. Condensate from the HVAC system will be used to add a bit of water to the aguaponic grow beds. The latter will contain vegetable gardens and fish that can be eaten, such as tilapia. The system between the plant beds and fish tank is kept clean by harmless bacteria, as the article noted.

Rainwater capture will provide all potable water needs, but the house would be connected to a municipal water supply to provide backup during spells without rain. A 2000-foot canopy between two parts of the house will gather rain, which then circulates through gutters into bladder tanks below the decks. The tanks can hold 5,000 gallons. The water then goes through a two-part filtration system: carbon filtering and UV light filtering in order to reach the national standard for drinkable water, noted the article.

Because seeing a monthly line-up of one’s own water use helps fight water waste, the NexusHaus team provided a technological monitoring system that provides minute-by-minute information on water usage amounts. From the same system, homeowners can also look at indoor temperature, control humidity, and energy usage, said the article.

The team’s house design is intended to be re-used, particularly to provide infill — extra lodgings or buildings on property lots that already hold other structures — for Austin’s “alley flat initiative,” which aims to provide affordable extra dwellings in backyards of the city, the article confirmed.

For more great nature science stories and general news, please visit our sister site, Headlines and Global News (HNGN).

-Follow Catherine on Twitter @TreesWhales


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Many hands help in Butler park cleanup

The cleanup efforts at Yapewi Park were a resounding success thanks to all the volunteer hands, said coordinator Sherry Bednarz-Mosier, of the Passaic River Coalition.

The efforts at cleaning up the park and the waterways that flow through the area, which form tributaries to the Passaic River, took on the makings of an archaeological dig, Bednarz-Mosier said. An 1970s-era motorcycle was unearthed in the park, along with two refrigerators and a derelict oil tank.

Taking place on Sept. 19 and 26, the work involved volunteers from several organizations, said Bednarz-Mosier. Scoutmaster Ronald Baldwin and members of Troop 101 cleaned up trails and planted flowers. The Environmental Club of Butler High School helped with the removal of debris and other items that should not be found in a park.

“We had student power,” said Bednarz-Mosier, thanking Lori Hunt of Butler High School, the advisor to the club.

The volunteers also had the power of the Butler Fire Department behind them. Capt. Doug Morse was on hand to provide tools and extra hands from the department to contribute to the effort.

Neighbors were on hand as well.

“The Arch Street volunteers, who have worked to preserve the natural habitat for the past nine years, worked together with the community groups,” Bednarz-Mosier said.

Karen Becker, the Butler Clean Communities coordinator, brought gloves, garbage bags, leaf bags, and containers for material that could be recycled. And as important as any other tool available to the volunteers, she supplied insect repellant for the people working in the swampy conditions.

Becker also helped provide lunch and snacks for the volunteers, and AJ’s Pizza in Butler donated pizza for lunch.

By the time they were done, the volunteers produced — in addition to the motorcycle and other large items — 14 contractor bags of debris and four leaf bags. The refuse material was removed from the site by crews from the Borough of Butler, Bednarz-Mosier said. Large metal items were removed by Tintle Metal Recycling.

And to finish the job, TC Landscaping cleared the cleanup site of vegetative waste, and Glenwild Gardens in Bloomingdale provided mums at a discount to be planted in the park.

“We also want to thank photographer Eileen Tweer, for photographing this and past cleanups,” Bednarz-Mosier said.


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Pick up winter gardening tips at Ormond Beach library – Daytona Beach News

John Isaac of Whisperwood Farms will explain which plants do well in cooler months and offer tips to add color to the winter garden at 1 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 15, at the Ormond Beach Regional Library, 30 S. Beach St., Ormond Beach.

His free presentation is part of the library’s Casual Gardening Series. Reservations are not required. For more information, call the library at 386-676-4191, option 4.


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Gardening Tips: Beautifying our landscapes

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Fall gardening: preparation tips from UBC horticulturalist Egan Davis

After a dry summer that was hard on plants, many people are getting their gardens ready for the winter so that their specimens will be strong next spring.

But University of B.C. horticulturalist Egan Davis says gardeners should resist the temptation to cut back their perennials and rake leaves off their beds.

“Fall clean up is actually one of the most detrimental things you can do in your garden,” said Davis, who is the chief educator in the UBC Horticulture Training Program at the UBC Botanical Garden.

“The concept of cleaning up the garden, getting it ready for fall, is an aesthetic thing, and it’s nice to adopt a mind-set of being okay with things being … untidy,” he said.

Davis shared some of his winter preparation tips with North by Northwest host Margaret Gallagher.

1. Don’t clean up too much

Davis recommends leaving plants alone until spring.

“A trick that I like to do in the garden — when you have garden detritus and its upright and standing and its persisted through to March — is take some hedge shears in the spring and start from the top of the plants and clip them into little pieces and just let them fall and lie where they are.”

Davis said some plants like roses can be cut back, so they don’t get blown around in winter, but doesn’t suggest cutting back many other plants: “If in doubt, just leave it alone.”

However, for those who are concerned about keeping garden beds and plants tidy in high-profile areas, they could put down mulch.

“Put a nice mulch that’s dark in colour by your front door, but for the rest of it I just like the idea of leaving it all up.”

2. Don’t leave soil exposed

“Soil exposed through the winter can be so easily damaged,” he said.

“When there’s rain on bare soil … the soil structure gets destroyed, you get erosion, and you’re left with a cakey surface.”

“Nowhere in nature do you actually see bare, exposed soil, it’s either going to be covered with some plant detritus, or rocks or grasses…otherwise soil just gets damaged and washed away, so it’s important to either mulch or allow plants to cover the soil.”

3. Plant native species that flower through the winter

One plant Davis recommends is Seablush, which is native to Vancouver Island.

“It’s actually germinating now, will flower in the spring, but all through the winter it grows and covers those bare patches of soil. It protects the soil, [and] puts carbon into the soil through the winter time.”

He said poached egg plant (limnanthes douglasii) also grows through the winter and flowers in spring.

“Those two plants actually then die, set their seeds and die, and allow space for your spring and summer plants to grow through the season.”

To hear the full interview with Egan Davis listen to the audio labelled: Tips for getting your garden ready for winter, from an expert horticulturalist

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Pukeiti reveals tribute garden

Pukeiti’s Keiller Rohododren Home Garden designer Xanthe White and sister of the late Robert Keiller, Patricia Keiller, attended the area’s official opening at the weekend.

A “house” for rhododendrons designed to inspire the green-thumbed was unveiled at Pukeiti at the weekend.

The opening of the Keiller Rhododendron Home Garden was celebrated with a ribbon cutting ceremony attended by about 60 people at Taranaki’s internationally famed rainforest on Saturday.

The re-landscaped garden was created in honour of the late Robert Keiller, an engaged member of the Pukeiti Rhododendron Trust who had a passion for New Zealand raised plants.

Robert’s sister Patricia Keiller travelled from Palmerston North to cut the ribbon, alongside Pukeiti Rhododendron chair Gordon Bailey.

Patricia said rhododendrons were her brother’s love.

Robert, who died in 2012, aged 78, had developed his own garden as a series of rooms, she said.

“You went from one room to the other through passageways.

“So, this is really an interesting link, with this like a house, like a room,” she said.

At the centre of the garden sat the frame of a house which hosted a paved foundation in its centre. Garden plots were dotted around both the inside and outside of the structure.

A raised pathway overlooked the entire area and a shelter was erected near the house.

Taranaki Regional Council regional gardens manager Greg Rine said the tribute area, located at the end of the walking tracks within the 360-hectare property on Carrington Rd, was designed to inspire people to go home and grow their own rhododendrons.

“We want people to relate to the area,” he said.

Auckland-based landscape designer Xanthe White found out she hadsecured the design job two years ago.

She then spent many months working on the garden’s concept.

The idea behind the design was to create a scale relative to a home gardener within the large bush setting, she said.

“And because there was a house on here at one point I was trying to acknowledge that history but leave, I guess, the skeleton of that there, giving people an ability to see it in a way that they could relate.”

White, whose dad is from Taranaki, said it was an honour to have been able to design the garden as she felt a deep connection with the Pukeiti property.

As a young child she would visit her, now, late grandmother in New Plymouth who would take her to visit the gardens.

“Having this connection is a way of keeping our family here, and those memories.”

Pukeiti gardens is currently undergoing a multi-million dollar upgrade, including a covered Vireya – a tropical rhododendron species – walk, near the gatehouse.

 – Stuff

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