Pilot project would offer landscaping grants to Superior – Superior Telegram
SUPERIOR — City Council President Jenny Van Sickle wants the city’s overall plan to work for Superior.
And she takes a page from the document to develop a pilot program inspired by her mother’s love of gardening to meet the needs identified by city residents by developing the Scenery and Home Superior landscaping project.
“Landscaping in neighborhoods could have a huge impact, not just for the homeowner, but for the entire street,” Van Sickle said. “I just think the landscaping makes a huge difference.”
The pilot project would use $15,000 from the city’s Neighborhood Improvement Fund for landscaping and maintenance services for selected homeowners in designated Community Development Block Grant neighborhoods to improve the appearance of these neighborhoods. Grant recipients must own the area for which services are requested and the area must be accessible to the public. Preference could be given to corner lots, which would have a greater impact on the block. Items that would not be funded include paving, benches, fencing and trash removal.
Program applicants can apply for three grant amounts: $3,500, $2,500 and $1,500 in landscaping services. Each project will set aside $500 for maintenance services in the second year of the program.
The CDBG neighborhoods eligible for the program coincide with several of the resident neighborhoods identified as needing improvement.
“I really believe that sometimes all we need is a little push,” Van Sickle said. “The grant amounts I have offered are modest. We’re not talking about extreme home renovations or anything. We’re talking about… beautification, and I think there are ways to ‘incorporate things like pollinator gardens or native grasses that prevent stormwater runoff, really investing in quality, low-maintenance plantings.’
She said the goal was to help neighborhoods transform.
“I just want to say that I think it’s really important to pay attention to aesthetics,” said planning commissioner Brian Finstad. “I think a lot of times in the city in the past aesthetics have been pushed aside…I see a direct link between aesthetics and the perception of the city, and the city’s ability to attract investment, residents, visitors.”
Superior has some experience in boosting neighborhoods with modest efforts. In the early 2000s, the city ran a program to help people with barriers paint their homes. Paint the Town brought together teams of volunteers to paint 10 homes in various areas of the city over the summer.
In some cases, the program has encouraged other neighborhood residents to beautify their homes, said Jason Serck, director of economic development, port and planning.
Councilor Brent Fennessey said if the goal is to create some sort of synergy, he would suggest focusing grants and efforts in one neighborhood at a time to see what happens.
Van Sickle said when she thought of the program, she thought of a house in each eligible area of the city, but she wouldn’t mind starting in one neighborhood and building from there.
“It’s not a big amount of money,” Finstad said. “It’s a pilot project so we can see how it goes and adjust if necessary.”
Van Sickle said his goal is to roll out the program this winter and award the grants by Mother’s Day, so the projects can be done over the summer.
“The key to this is working closely with the contractor who is selected to do this,” Serck said.
“I think it’s just a boost that some people might really appreciate and need,” Van Sickle said. “And we’ve been doing it now for a few years for small businesses with great success.”
Van Sickle said she will refine the program with suggestions from members of the planning commission and present the program to them for their consideration in December.
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