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Archives for October 29, 2015

Palmetto wants public input on Old Main Street Complete Street Project

PALMETTO — The Palmetto Community Redevelopment Agency will begin holding town hall meetings soon on one of the biggest projects the city has embarked upon: the Old Main Street Complete Street Project.

The project, which will give the city’s Old Main Street a major overhaul, is one of six projects under partnership with the Florida Department of Transportation and the Southwest Florida Water Management District. Phase one, which starts next year, will coincide with the Green Bridge expansion to create a multimodal trail connecting Bradenton to Palmetto.

Mayor Shirley Groover Bryant said they are separate projects, but the bridge expansion will connect to improvements and a multimodal trail at Riverside Park East and West.

“I think it’s going to be a dynamic change to the whole corridor by adding all these amenities, like the trail, upgrading stormwater treatment, adding historical lighting and sidewalks,” said Bryant. “It will bring more people into downtown.”

The remaining phases approved for state funding are delayed until 2021, but they will have a larger impact on the city when under construction at the same time. Because design is expected to start in 2017, Burton said now is the time to involve the public.

“This is about community engagement,” said CRA Director Jeff Burton. “The whole idea is to have discussions with the residents about what they envision. We can come up with great ideas, but if the community doesn’t buy in, then it won’t work.”

Amy Lozano, owner of Palmetto Pool Care on Old Main Street for 25 years, said the city is heading in the right direction.

“I think it’s a good plan,” said Lozano. “This is a nice part of town that I don’t think people who live in Palmetto realize is here, so a plan to bring all that foot and bike traffic onto Old Main Street is a great start.”

In 2021, the city and Florida Department of Transportation will start work on Old Main Street (10th Avenue West) as part of six projects linked by a multimodal trail. Projects consist of street improvements, landscaping, sidewalks, stormwater improvements and lighting, stretching from Riverside Park West to Old Main Street and north to 17th Street West.

Each of the six phases had been expected to begin back-to-back each year until complete. Burton said it’s unusual to be happy about a delay for “the biggest project we’ve ever done,” but it has given the city a chance to take a closer look at the $10 million project.

“We were scheduled to move fast and furious on this, one at a time,” he said. “To be honest, we weren’t ready for such a big project. There are still so many questions that have to be asked, concepts to be discussed at the city level, and in no way were we prepared to handle those projects one at a time every year. The CRA has to stay financially grounded and we would have had to reach for outside financing.”

The CRA applied for each of the six projects last year, hoping one or two were approved. Instead, the six highest-ranked projects were all approved. Burton said this is a game changer for the city and is much more than just repaving streets.

“It is a complete overhaul and it tries to address everything from pedestrians to vehicles and even freight so that all of it works in conjunction with one another,” he said. “But there are tough questions that have to be answered and one of them is parking. Do we want street parking or wider sidewalks? Those are the kinds of details we need to glean from the public. The public process is an important one because this is the city’s downtown corridor and you only get one shot to get it right.”

Bryant said the city already has a model in Fifth Street West, which was updated with red-brick pavers decorating intersections and parking areas.

“Fifth Street was our pilot project,” said Bryant. “What you will see downtown is something similar in a lot of ways, but there is still a lot to consider and once we go block by block finetuning a plan, we’ll look for a lot input from the businesses.”

John Batchelor works at Grower’s Hardware Co., which has been in existence for 90 years. The quaint small-town store also houses a barbershop and is a local favorite. Batchelor said Fifth Street improvements have had a big impact and he is excited to see improvements expand to the rest of downtown.

“It really helped with parking by creating angled parking and having spaces in front,” said Batchelor, who said he wished the city would create more residential opportunities downtown. “I’m seeing a lot more people since the improvements, but you need to mix business with residential and keep things going on at night instead of a grouping of commercial buildings when at 5 p.m., no one is around.”

Downtown affordable housing isn’t in this project, but it is a concept not lost on the city. Burton said the CRA is going to focus more on housing in the coming years. In the meantime, Bryant said the multimodal trail will get people to an area “where we want to groom it as a pedestrian friendly area.”

Mark Young, Herald urban affairs reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7041 or follow him on Twitter@urbanmark2014.

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Famed Designer Lists His Dolores Heights Home for $3.295M

In 1996, when interior designer Douglas Durkin purchased the home at 3622 22nd St., it was a simple Craftsman cottage. From the outside, it still looks much the same. But on the inside, it’s a rich tapestry of antiques, global items, color, and pattern. It’s this kind of work that has put Durkin on the AD100 list, Architectural Digest‘s roster of the top designers in America. After nearly a decade in the house, he is putting the three story, two bedroom, four bathroom Edwardian home on the market. The home’s interior isn’t the only thing that’s changed over the years (and since it comes with plans for expansion, there’s a blueprint for new ideas). Its location (close to Dolores Park, the Mission, the Castro, and Noe Valley) has become even more desirable since the last time this home changed hands.

Durkin is known for a style that touches on classicism, modernism, and global influences. That aesthetic point of view is evident throughout the home and its warm-hued color palette. But the interior isn’t the only special feature here. The outside of the house is divided into four living areas: A bamboo garden, a lower level viewing garden, a deck off the master bedroom, and a top floor roof deck with panoramic views.

Of course the furniture and artwork isn’t listed as part of the sale; but one of the best designers in town is very familiar with the project and (budget permitting) could perhaps be hired to create a similar look.

Click here to view the full photogallery.

· 2010 AD100: Douglas Durkin [Architectural Digest]
· 3622 22nd St. [Official Site]

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Landscaping Tips and Ideas #PropertyInsights

Landscaping your house is a good way to add character to your yard without necessarily having to spend lots of money. Just a few creative ideas can really transform the overall look of your house. Here is a few tips:

Landscaping Your Yard

Flowers are a quick and easy way to add personality and character to your house, and ultimately make the house seem more inviting. If you have a small space between your house and the street, try putting a low gate to give an illusion that your house is further from the street than it really is. Invest in perennial and seasonal plants that will bloom all year round.

These include clingers and climbers; pick those that will bloom in blues or purples to add more appeal to your home.

Add dimension to your yard with elevated planters and hanging baskets. It creates a sea of color. Each pot should contain a spiller, one that hangs over the edges, a filler – one that grows into a mound and a thriller – one that is completely eye-catching.

Design a small hideaway in the depths of your garden where people can relax by putting together rails and benches. It is more effective when it is more hidden than when right inform of your house.

With these few tricks you should be well on your way to having a spectacular yard that will be the envy of the neighborhood.

Get more property insights from Pam Golding.

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Lungwort find in Sturbridge raises concern about invasive plant species

Posted Oct. 28, 2015 at 6:11 PM
Updated at 6:13 PM

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Durable plants



Texas is getting hotter and drier. By the end of this century, Houstonians can expect to have to endure scorchers – temperatures above 95 degrees Fahrenheit – as often as 124 days per year, according to a study by the Risky Business Project, a bipartisan coalition led by former U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson Jr., former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and hedge fund manager-turned-environmentalist Tom Steyer.

Not only will our air-conditioning bills dent our pocketbooks, the heat will be tough on our yards, gardens, parks and public green spaces. In the future, the Houston Parks Department, homeowners and landscapers will need to select plants on the basis of their tolerance to high temperatures and natural water availability. Our current green lawns – highly dependent on outdoor watering – are simply unsustainable.

While regional policy makers, the Houston business community and elected officials hone practices that take climate change into account, a 39-acre garden in Hempstead has come up with its own model for climate preparedness for those interested in sustainable landscaping.

Although little-known in the Houston region, Peckerwood Garden has received national attention for its collection of more than 3,000 plants from Mexico, Asia and the United States, many of which are no longer found in the wild. Located at the convergence of three climate zones, the garden serves as a testing ground for yucca, dasylirion, nolina, dioon and other plants that are beautiful as well as durable and that will be suitable for our region as it grows hotter and drier.

Retired Texas AM professor John Gaston Fairey who started the garden embraces the horticultural philosophy of planting what works. Fairey mixes the familiar, such as magnolias and pines, with drought-resistant sun-loving plants like palms and agaves. “You just have to learn to live with these things,” Fairey told us. “To be optimistic whatever happens.”

Recently, Fairey has created a Peckerwood Garden Foundation, and he is working with the Garden Conservancy, a national organization, to transition the site into a public garden. Until then, those responsible for the future of local parks, forests and gardens can go to the site on select weekends and by private tours year-round to learn from Fairey’s experiment.

Living half a year with temperatures above 95 F will be bad enough. Living in a hot city without green space would be worse. We commend all efforts to make regional horticultural practices drought-resistant and more resilient.

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Castle Rock family recognized for edible landscaping

CASTLE ROCK —On a foot-by-foot basis, there may not be a property in Douglas County with a more diverse array of edible plant life than the suburban lot where Andy and Kimberly Hough live in Castle Rock.

Walking along the side of the Hough’s Founders Park home, there are potted pepper and tomato plants, strawberries, vines of wine grapes, even several shrubs of lesser-known Asian sea berries.

And that’s not including the backyard, with its fruit trees, bushes, vegetables and herbs and a handful of egg-laying chickens.

During a recent tour of the yard, the word “oasis” was mentioned.

“That is what we’re trying to create here,” Andy Hough said.

Some Douglas County officials are hoping the Hough family’s passion rubs off on others.

Andy and Kimberly Hough were recently recognized by the Douglas County Conservation Districtas the county’s Backyard Conservationists of the Year for their efforts to improve the soil and grow food on their residential lot.

The district — a special district funded in part by the county commissioners that has roots dating to the Dust Bowl — for years has recognized landowners who embrace innovation and best practices on their properties with Landowner of the Year awards.

“Our mission is to promote projects through education to further the long-term, sustainable use of natural resources, balancing the needs of agriculture and urban growth,” district administrator Pam Brewster said, noting the district organizes seminars on topics including fire mitigation and soil health each year as well as an annual conservation camp for kids.

Brewster said Landowner of the Year awards typically go to people who own properties that are 5 acres or larger. The Backyard Conservationist award is new this year, Brewster said, and in a state that is expected to see significant population growth in coming decades, it’s something she expects her district will be promoting for years to come.

“We want to encourage people,” she said. “Because if (the Houghs) can do it, anybody can do it. Even in an urban setting, almost anyone has a little piece of land they can work with. Take out some of the things that are just using up water and put in something that is going to produce fruit.”

Andy Hough said he and his family have been growing fruits and veggies around their home for 20 years, the last eight on their 0.18-acre lot in Founders Park. Hough is an environmental resources coordinator for Douglas County and oversees the county’s research and demonstration orchard on the Hidden Mesa Open Space.

“It’s a huge honor,” he said of the award. “I’m very pleased to be able to showcase the opportunities that everyone on the Front Range can use.”

Hough and his family improved the soil in the yard with the help of a worm-powered vermicompost bin, feeding in biodegradable waste and letting earthworms turn it into a nutrient-rich mix. He said he invests in some different seed types each year, but with a yard capable of producing 70 pounds of tomatoes each year and gallons of various syrups and jams, the investment more than pays for itself, especially when feeding a family of six kids, three of whom live at home.

“We save a lot of money doing this. I can’t tell you how much, but it can be substantial,” said Hough, who is also an avid canner. “We’re eating better-tasting food, and, for the more expensive stuff, more of it.”

Douglas County CommissionerDavid Weaver was at the conservation district meeting where the Houghs were recognized. He called a short video presentation about the family’s efforts “fascinating.”

“I’m thinking, ‘What can I grow in that 10-foot-by-4-foot spot on the side of my house?’ ” Weaver said. “It’s an amazing story. We could all be doing like Andy is doing. Now, it’s about ‘How do we pass that to our children in the future?’ “

Joe Rubino: 303-954-2953, or @RubinoJC

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Local garden designer on a mission for disabled kids

There are play parks and plenty of outdoor activities to choose from in Harrogate for most children.

However, children and young people with disabilities can often only sit and watch. They may be physically unable to join in or for some the great outdoors can be dangerous, frightening or just not very interesting! These kids tend to see the world differently to most of us. They may be over sensitive to certain stimuli and under sensitive to others.

Wouldn’t it be amazing, thought Lorna Batchelor, if they could have a garden specifically designed for their needs and interests, a safe outdoor place where they can really get involved.

Lorna runs Yorkshire Garden Designs whose projects have included designing the recently developed garden at Southlands Nursing Home. Her 10 year old son George suffers from severe learning disabilities. George loves to go
out and about but he has no concept of danger and his mobility is limited.
He loves to explore textures of different materials, running his hands over things with deep concentration and often putting things in his mouth.

Along with many other disabled kids from across the district aged 8 – 18, George goes for respite breaks at Nidd House, the Nidderdale Children’s Resource Centre in Killinghall.

The centre has extensive grounds and it is here that Lorna sees potential to develop her visionary sensory garden. A
garden that is easily accessible for wheelchair users and full of opportunities to interact with plants, soil, water, wildlife and outdoor materials, promoting learning, physical fitness and self confidence.

Nidd House is run by North Yorkshire County Council who, sadly, are unable to offer any funding for such a project.

Yorkshire Garden Design’s services will be free of charge and several local businesses have pledged their support, agreeing to donate some of the materials and manpower (GH Brooks, Knox Sawmills, Hacs, Yorkshire GroundForce).

However, Lorna still needs to raise around £5000 to make this dream a reality and is asking for donations

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