LOWVILLE – From benches, bike racks and artistic educational murals to artistic landscaping elements, the villages of Lewis County just got a little prettier and more friendly this summer.
With a mix of budgeted money, community support, and grants, county village governments have gone beyond the status quo.
In central Copenhagen, on either side of Route 12, called Main Street, large flowerpots with elaborate, almost architectural, and brightly colored flower arrangements magically appeared in early summer.
But magically, it was not. It took a village to get them there.
The Copenhagen Village Board of Directors had set aside $ 6,000 in the budget for several years for improvement projects that were only used this year.
“The planters were something the village did in conjunction with a community group,” said administrator Kimberly R. Vogt, who led the effort. “It cost us just under $ 4000 for 10 planters and seven hanging baskets. They are produced locally in Auburn. … the Earth Planter brand (self-watering).
A community member traveled to Auburn to pick up the planters. The group that organizes the village’s Christmas decorations bought the flowery greenery that the local 4-H club arranged and planted in the vases.
Shari L. Simmons, owner of Simmons Christmas Tree Farm who lives and has his business just outside the village limits, went with the committee leader to purchase a variety of flowering and non-flowering plants for the project in a number of greenhouses in Syracuse. .
Although most of the plants purchased are annuals rather than perennials, two local businesses, Hopenhagen Farm and The Davenport, have each donated $ 500 for next year’s projects, Ms. Vogt said.
Lowville has also invested budget money in some beautification efforts this year.
Landscaping has been done in the formerly weeded area at the “Y” intersection of roads 12 and 26 at the southern end of the village, including cementing part of it and adding planters. and a new tree in the middle that should bloom in the spring and fall, according to Mayor Joseph G. Beagle.
At the “Clock Tower” park at the main intersection at the four corners of the village, where North State and South State streets meet Dayan Street and Shady Avenue, the village has added decorative information signs on the street. history of the park and surrounding buildings.
Last year at the other end of the village, the Lowville board of directors launched a project to remove, clean, repair and replace the fountain at the north end where West State Street meets North State Street.
The return of the fountain components to their original locations was supposed to be completed in the spring, but after a significant issue arose, Mr Beagle said they hope to complete the effort within the next few weeks.
“The base and everything had been set up correctly and the (cast iron) fountain had been sanded and repainted, but when it came up again, for some reason it fell and broke,” Mr. Beagle. “So we figured out what it would take to restore it… but it was actually cheaper to replace it. “
While the original fountain’s tiered design is similar to the new granite fountain top, it won’t be an exact replica.
Mr Beagle added that the fountain has also been upgraded with the addition of LED lights that will “glow in the water at night” and new benches located around the fountain.
The village work team is replacing the footbridge leading to the Veterans Park in the center of the village.
“It was so overgrown that only one person could walk the path at a time,” Mr. Beagle said.
The new path will be wide and made of stamped brown concrete to better match the surrounding environment, according to the mayor, and new shrubs will be planted along the path next week.
A Port Leyden project was completed and unveiled at a ceremony in June. The project began in 2019 with a grant application from Lyons Falls resident, artist and author of children’s books Lydia Johnson Huntress, followed by grant and design concept approval in 2020.
The murals, designed to be fun and decorative as well as a source of learning for the children of Port Leyden, were mounted on the exterior walls of the community park community center.
Port Leyden, Castorland, Croghan, Copenhagen and Lyons Falls participated in grant opportunities based on the Complete Streets program introduced in the region by Mark Fenton Sponsored by the Tug Hill Commission, the program workshops explored ways to make streets and the spaces of the village more convivial and attractive.
“There have been various funding opportunities over the past two years. The grants have been of different sizes with different eligible expenses, “said Anna Platz, deputy director of public health for Lewis County,” there is a huge push, especially in the COVID era, to make communities safer and more mobile – not even just walkable – but mobile, for people of all ages and abilities. I am truly delighted that we have communities that join us and take advantage of these opportunities. That’s wonderful.”
Copenhagen and Lyons Falls benefited from a Complete Streets grant program initiated by the commission in 2019, through which they were able to secure benches, bike racks and picnic tables made by students at BOCES Glenfield.
While some items have been received and placed, including the Lyons Falls benches and, this summer, the four Copenhagen bike racks, production of the benches, picnic tables and an information kiosk for Copenhagen has been delayed by the pandemic, Ms Vogt said. .
Grant streams for similar items were offered this year through a collaboration between county planning and public health departments.
“The village and our residents carried out a pedestrian potential study and the result was unanimous, to refresh or enhance the waterfront area,” said Mayor of Port Leyden, Heather M. Collins.
The Port Leyden crew were able to install various signs indicating both vehicle and bicycle parking, purchase new trash cans and repair part of the sidewalk. The team also upgraded a green space near the Black River on East Main Street by staining and sealing an unfinished picnic table placed years ago, adding a wood and metal bench facing the river and creating a garden for mom.
Ms Platz said Port Leyden has also ordered a pet waste disposal system for the village.
“It covered a lot. It was just a $ 5,000 grant and we also added what we wanted to add. We ended up doing the whole project at a low cost to the village, ”said Collins. “These things have been what I have wanted to do for many years and it is wonderful to have the opportunity to do so.”
Croghan and Castorland participated in walk audits for this grant stream and “chose what met the needs of their residents” from the suggested improvements, Ms. Platz said.
In Castorland, several benches and signs directing people to their community park were purchased with the grant money, while in Croghan, picnic tables and benches were placed around the village.
Going forward, Lowville village chiefs still have potential funding going on and a number of ideas, including a walking trail around Veterans Park; a flat concrete slab near the bandstand connected to the new footbridge; and a lighted corridor leading from the main village parking lot to Shady Avenue near the cinema.
Copenhagen will continue to work on a walking path that circles the village and will use planters to find ways to “calm the traffic”.
“The goal is to try to get people moving and engaged and to help our businesses,” Ms. Vogt said. “It’s about making this place a fun place and a safe place to be.”
A new grant funding initiative led by the county’s planning department, the Facade and Streetscape Improvement Program, is accepting applications from business owners and owners who wish to “revitalize the historic character and attractiveness of villages and hamlets across the country. Lewis County through public and private investment. The program is also designed for municipal government projects that “improve walking and / or community aesthetics in a village or hamlet.” Applications are due November 1.
For Lowville, who applied for the Downtown Revitalization Initiative earlier this month, future ideas for village improvement and fundraising hopes are high.