Rss Feed
Tweeter button
Facebook button

Archives for June 7, 2016

TRA unveils plans for first phase of downtown redevelopment

From The Trussville Tribune staff reports

TRUSSVILLE –The Trussville Redevelopment Authority unveiled a comprehensive plan for the first phase of downtown redevelopment on Thursday night. The architectural rendering shows the block that includes The Straw Hat, Three Earred Rabbit, Liberty Automotive and the former Mabe’s building, known as Quadrant One.

Surveys of the block have been completed and several parcels of land have been acquired to make way for the project, with at least one acquisition still in process.

Highlights of the plan include new sidewalks with brick dividers, street lighting, landscaping and a public parking lot behind the Three Earred Rabbit to accommodate almost 70 vehicles.

Drawings of the plan and proposed engineering work for the sidewalks, traffic signals and property access have been forwarded to the Alabama Department of Transportation for consideration and approval. ALDOT will have the final say in all traffic improvements for the area as Main Street (U.S. Highway 11) is a state highway.

Other elements of the concept include a pavilion reminiscent of the old Trussville train depot, with walking trails, an amphitheater and additional parking for 41 vehicles along Pinchgut Creek at the south end on Morrow Avenue.

The architectural rendering includes design concepts for existing buildings should current property owners choose to upgrade their buildings.

Members of TRA and elected officials have met with numerous private developers and business owners who have expressed and interest locating businesses in the downtown area. Some developers have expressed an interest in renovating existing buildings while others are more interested in developing vacant property with new buildings.

Additionally, TRA forwarded a proposal to the city council for consideration that would allow property owners to apply for grants in order to improve their buildings to enhance the downtown area. The proposal includes an investment from property owners and approval of city boards in order to obtain a grant to help offset the cost of exterior renovations.

Trussville councilmen Buddy Choat, who serves as one of the council liaisons to TRA, and Anthony Montalto attended Thursday’s meeting.

“We have looked at other cities to see how they have done projects like this,” Choat said.

Choat and Montalto said the council members have informally discussed different ideas for funding potential grants and redevelopment in general.

“This is an area that has been neglected and we need to make an investment,” Montalto said. “We may need to consider level funding parts of the budget to redirect money here.”

The city has partnered with TRA in numerous ways since downtown redevelopment has been underway, through land acquisition and funding TRA financial commitments.



Article source:

Master gardener loves planting knowledge, seeing it grow

Posted Jun. 7, 2016 at 6:00 AM

Article source:

Why Lincoln has some of the most interesting houses in Massachusetts

Mixed in with Greater Boston’s Colonial, Georgian, and Cape-style houses are small enclaves of very different homes — prime examples of modern architecture built in the 1930s through the 1960s. You’ll see some of these modernist homes in places like Lexington, Weston, Belmont, and Lincoln.

Architects often chose locations in the woodsy outskirts of these towns because the land was not fit for subdivisions, according to Sally Zimmerman, senior manager of historic preservation services at Historic New England.

“They were in pastureland or land that was not A-1 for laying down 50 houses,” Zimmerman told “It was kinda leftover land that was attractive to them because it was less expensive and there was a lot of pristine landscaping in the form of trees and interesting crops of rock — a design challenge and an opportunity for modern architecture.”

But Lincoln’s collection of modern homes is unique even among this small group of towns because many of the architects built their personal homes there, rather than building for clients.

“When they can design for themselves you get the pure statement of the architect’s ideas and intent,” Zimmerman added.

The most famous example is Walter Gropius, a German immigrant who was the founder of Bauhaus, a German design school. He moved to Cambridge in 1937 to teach at Harvard, where he would later form The Architects Collaborative, a group dedicated to the modernist movement.

Gropius House.
Gropius House. —Wikimedia Commons / Magicpiano

Gropius built his own house in Lincoln — now a National Historic Landmark and museum owned by Historic New England — in 1938.

Historic New England writes:

“Modest in scale, the house was revolutionary in impact. It combined the traditional elements of New England architecture—wood, brick, and fieldstone—with innovative materials rarely used in domestic settings at that time, including glass block, acoustical plaster, chrome banisters, and the latest technology in fixtures.”

Through the Gropius House might be the most famous, it was not the first modernist home in town. Architect Henry B. Hoover built his modern home in 1937, starting the trend that would continue through the 1960s and bring close to 70 modern homes to Lincoln, most of which are still standing today.

Part of the reason so many homes, including Hoover’s own, are still there is because of Hoover’s daughter, Lucretia Giese and the rest of the team at Friends of Modern Architecture/Lincoln, or FoMa.

The Henry B. Hoover House in Lincoln.
The Henry B. Hoover House in Lincoln. —Joanne Rathe / Globe staff

Giese wants to save the homes she grew up with, preserving her father’s legacy and the modern architecture he brought to New England.

“About 10 years go we decided we needed to make other townspeople informed so we founded FoMa,” Giese told “We are very engaged with community to raise awareness and the need to preserve.”

Giese, who now lives in another modern house in Lincoln, was worried that her father’s house would be torn down, so she and her brother negotiated with Historic New England to get it into the Preservation Easement Program, which protects historically important homes from major alterations.

“We sold it last year to another family and they seem to respect the house,” Giese said. “The easement restrictions are quite complete so they are more stewards than owners, but it gives us great confidence.”

A contemporary home in tree-shrouded lot in Lincoln.
A contemporary home in tree-shrouded lot in Lincoln. —Joanne Rathe / Globe staff

“One of the many complaints against functional design in modern architecture…was that New England’s forefathers could very easily say ‘It doesn’t belong,’” The Boston Globe quoted Gropius’s wife as saying in 1946.

Indeed, the kind of homes you’ll find all over Lincoln were not always popular among historically minded New Englanders.

Bill Janovitz and his business partner John Tse are a real estate marketing and buyer agent team affiliated with William Raveis Real Estate and also run a blog called ModernMass. They specialize in selling modernist homes.

Janovitz said in the 1970s, ’80s, and ’90s, there was a trend toward the nostalgia of Colonial homes and a deemphasis on modernism. He also noted that many people who had modern homes built in the 30s through 60s were still living in them until recently.

“The people that built these houses for themselves were only starting to turn them over in the last 15 to 16 years,” Janovitz said. At the time a lot of these homes were undervalued, as it wasn’t in the style people were searching for.

But in recent years, as architectural trends like open concept and big windows have come into play, more people have gained an appreciation for modern homes.

“We saw immigrants coming into the country for academia or sciences and they had no stake in the nostalgia of the American past,” Janovitz said. “It was about practicality and open floor plans. It’s hard to find that stuff around here.”

He said recently people have been drawn to modern homes as an alternative to city living.

“A lot of people are used to something more stylish in the city,” Janovitz said. “So they see it as a stylish alternative to giving up urban to the suburbs. And that’s what the original architects and buyers had in mind — it was optimistic and something different.”

Article source:

‘Do something simple’: How to make the perfect butterfly garden

Business Name

Location, ST |

Article source:

Gardens of delight: Beauty and inspiration worth the tour

There’s a sign hanging on a wall in Gae and Sandy McKay’s garden which reveals something about them.

It says, “I most often find that happiness is right where I planted it.”

Over the past 39 years, the McKays have found a lot of happiness in their garden. It has spread and evolved as their roots grew deep at 1829 N. Monroe St. The garden has spread inside a fenced-in backyard to multiple landscaped areas and several sitting areas around their corner property.

The McKay garden is one of five private gardens, along with the Master Gardener Demonstration Garden on the Hutchinson Community College campus, that will be part of the 2016 Garden Tour. The tour is from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday.

“You’ll be inspired by gardens that showcase a variety of trees, shrubs and flowers, creative landscapes and relaxing outdoor living spaces,” said Barbara Lappin, a Reno County Master Gardener who helped organize the annual event.

Highlights of this year’s tour include stops at an elegant shaded garden with a variety of towering trees, a dry creek bed with an arching bridge, a gnome garden and a cottage garden designed for outdoor living. Plus, there will be a butterfly garden and window box displays.

The tour includes two gardens in the sandhills: a tropics-inspired patio and flower garden with separate spring and fall vegetable garden areas, and one with stone-edged garden beds, ornamental grasses, hydrangeas, ground covers, Japanese maples and shade trees within a vine-covered, fenced backyard.

This year there will be new things to see at the demonstration garden, including berm planting bordered by a dry creek bed and small boulders planted in a natural landscape of native flowers, sedums and ground covers, small shrubs and grasses.

Although the McKay garden had been on the tour seven years ago, the backyard has been evolving. They have added a deck in the past few years, plus many changes were made after the drought of recent years took a toll. Plus, they lost some perennials when they experienced an early frost several years ago.

“We’ve done a lot of replacing,” Gae McKay said. Their yard is filled with perennials. Spring is beautiful. But they  compensate and make sure there is color with the help of annuals planted throughout their garden and overflowing out of pots.

When they first began working on their yard, they hired Jeremy Lindhal, who has since left his private landscaping business to be Hutchinson’s superintendent of horticulture and forestry. His original design – a raised bed on the north side of the house – remains filled with large hostas and Japanese ferns.

Over the years, Gae McKay became the designer and Sandy McKay the one who constructs her plans. One unique design on the side of a privacy fence is a living wreath she created using sedums and moss rose. It grows out of a bed of dirt held in place by a frame. Drip irrigation keeps the plants watered.

The McKays, now retired, labor in their yard with the help of their neighbor Bella Garcia, 15, who is planting many of the annuals this spring.

Saturday’s event also includes educational talks from 10 to 11:30 a.m. at the Master Gardeners Demonstration Garden. Parking is available in the 14th Avenue parking lot at HCC. The speakers are Scott Vogt, executive director of Dyck Arboretum, who will speak on attracting beneficial insects; certified arborist Bob Hunter, who will give pruning tips; and Sedgwick County ornamental horticultural agent Matthew McKernan, who will speak on shade gardening.

Advance tickets may be purchased for $8 at the Reno County Extension Office, 2 W. 10th Ave., South Hutchinson; Dillon Nature Center, 3002 E. 30th Ave.; Stutzman’s at Apple Lane and Pleasantview; Bornholdt Plantland, 1508 W. Fourth Ave.; Benton’s Greenhouse, 209 S. Valley Pride Road; and at all Dillons stores. Tickets can be ordered by calling Reno County Extension at (620) 662-2371, or they may be purchased online at

Tickets also will be available at each garden for $10 on the day of the tour. Children ages 12 and under are free. The proceeds from the tour go to support the local Master Gardeners programs.

Gardens on the tour include:

  • Bountiful Country Harvest, Mott Garden at 604 E. 71st Ave.;
  • Elegance in the Shade, Gordon Garden at 102 Road Runner;
  • Plant Collector’s Dream, Barnes Garden at 706 W. 20th Ave.;
  • Designed for Outdoor Living, McKay Garden at 1829 N. Monroe St.;
  • Gardener’s Paradise in the Sandhills, Hanzlicek Garden at 4200 Brigadune;
  • Pathways to Discovery, Master Gardener Demonstration Garden on the HCC campus. 

Article source:

Public housing residents told to tear up their gardens

Beauty and practicality don’t matter to the South Pittsburg Housing Authority, which recently informed all residents that gardens have to go.

Residents of public housing units in South Pittsburg, TN are angry. The executive director of the South Pittsburg Housing Authority, Lisa Bradford, recently announced that residents can no longer have gardens in their yards, despite the fact that the residents pay for plants themselves and some have tended their beautiful gardens for many years.

Last week the new Resolution 937 took effect:

“The South Pittsburg Housing Authority, beginning on June 1, 2016 will impose a new Landscaping Policy for all residents of the South Pittsburg Housing Authority. The new landscaping policy states that ALL landscaping, including gardening, is to be removed from the housing authority property, unless it is planted by the South Pittsburg Housing Authority staff. This landscaping includes all plants, trees, flowers, shrubbery, and/or gardening that is located in the yards or any/all unites. All tenants will be allowed to have potted plants, including vegetables, so long as they are potted and located on the front or back porch of the units.” (via screen capture)

Bradford claims that the resolution is not new, but that the previous administration had failed to enforce the policy. The Times Free Press quotes Bradford’s written statement, which unsurprisingly uses ‘safety’ as its questionable justification for pushing through such a backward policy:

“This new landscaping policy is needed to ensure the safety of the maintenance employees, residents and guests of the housing authority. Each resident that violated the landscaping policy by placing unauthorized alteration on the residential property created greater obstacles and safety issues for maintenance employees. The presence of additional obstacles created an environment where the maintenance employee has to spend more time performing landscaping maintenance rather than other maintenance on the properties.”

It is unclear how creating gardens that take up part of the yard space, thereby lessening the total amount of square footage that an employee has to maintain, would create more work for the employee, and jeopardize the health of residents.

To deprive public housing residents of their gardens is cruel and illogical punishment.

Many of the residents are dependent on food assistance programs, which means that encouraging them to grow their own food would make them more independent and food-secure, while saving the government money. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) even includes “seeds and plants which produce food for the household to eat” on its list of food items that can be purchased using SNAP benefits.

Tending flowers is beneficial, too; it is food for mind and soul. It reduces stress and anxiety, lessens the symptoms of ADHD, and boosts mental performance. It gives the residents something to work on and to feel proud of. It also provides a great way to get low-impact exercise and fresh air.

One resident is an 80-year-old woman who used to tend roses and daffodils that extended from her porch all the way to the curb. The Times Free Press reports that she had been sick and stressed ever since receiving the news that her gardens had to be uprooted:

“These were my babies,” said the woman referring to her flowers. She doesn’t want to be identified for fear of jeopardizing her housing. The woman said she planted and cared for the garden herself and with her own money. When the garden is in full bloom, it looks good enough to be featured in Better Homes and Gardens, said another public housing resident.

Not least of all, gardening turns an ugly building into something attractive and makes public housing less visibly condemning of the resident’s need for assistance. It’s good for the earth, for the air, for the pollinator populations of birds, bees, and butterflies that live in the neighborhood. A garden can absorb storm water and mitigate urban heat island effects.

Even Mayor Jane Dawkins thinks the policy is ridiculous and unnecessary. She wrote on Facebook that it’s unfair for residents not to be allowed to advocate for themselves at a public meeting.

“I actually found out the employees had already begun the process today and many of the residents have removed everything already. Some mentioned they were afraid they would lose their units if they didn’t comply. This is not acceptable.”

Article source:

Syrian refugees to learn tips and tricks for gardening

Syrian refugees to learn tips and tricks for gardening in
the south

A group of former refugees from Syria will
take part in a workshop to learn more about local plants and
gardening conditions, as they visit Otago Polytechnic’s
campus gardens this week.

Up to 15 people will attend the
workshop on Friday 10 June, which will demonstrate practical
horticulture techniques for southern conditions and provide
information about herbs and culinary plants, composting and
beekeeping. The attendees will also be given some plants to
take home to their own gardens.

The group will also tour
the Polytechnic’s Living Campus, a collection of
permaculture gardens in the heart of the Dunedin campus from
which the public can gather vegetables and even plant and
tend their own allotments.

“This is one way in which we
at Otago Polytechnic can extend our heartfelt welcome to
these new Dunedin residents,” explains English Language
Centre Team Leader, Aaron Blaker. “We hope the attendees
will acquire some helpful, practical information to assist
them as they start to settle into life here.”

workshop will be conducted by Horticulture Lecturer, Kim
Thomas. As the refugees do not yet speak English, one of the
Polytechnic’s Syrian students, May Taha, will interpret
throughout the visit.

May is a Syria-qualified pharmacist
undertaking English language study at Otago Polytechnic to
enable her to gain equivalent accreditation here in New


© Scoop Media

Article source: