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Date of Issue: October 08, 2008

City seeks new, improved green spaces

The Holmes Beach Parks and Beautification Committee returned from summer vacation to focus on creating a new garden, opening a new pocket park and improving other sites in the city.

Meanwhile, another group, the North American Butterfly Association’s Manasota Chapter, is preparing to return to work in the Anna Maria Island Butterfly Park at Holmes Beach City Hall. (See separate story.)

Over the next month, HBPB committee members, who met Oct. 1 at city hall, plan to write an application to the Sarasota Bay Estuary Program for a $1,000-$2,000 grant to create a Florida-friendly garden. The application is due Nov. 13.

“It really is a good idea to get that money,” said committee member Melissa Snyder.

A possible location for the public garden is near the intersection of Marina and Key Royale Drive near Gloria Dei Lutheran Church.

A plan already exists for such a garden, though the project might need to be tailored to suit the grant requirements, said HBPB committee member Fred Heger.

The site would serve as a demonstration garden, said committee member Kathy King, noting that SBEP will look for a public education component.

She added that a Florida-friendly garden, with low-maintenance, drought-resistant native plants, is related directly SBEP’s mission to protect the bay.

“A Florida-friendly garden is something I’ve always wanted to see,” King said.

“Anna Maria and Bradenton Beach have been successful with these grants,” added King, who chaired last week’s meeting in John Molyneux’s absence.

A preliminary proposal for the includes four flower beds with ground cover, plants to attract butterflies, ornamental grasses and flowering fruit plants and shrubs.

“I think it’s the perfect location,” King said of the Marina-Key Royale spot.

Later in the meeting, several committee members said the butterfly garden to the south of city hall might also serve as location for the project.

“That would be a good place for the demonstration garden,” Snyder said.

“We’re going to have to do something there,” said committee member Maureen Hirthler.

But the next day, the mayor signed an agreement with the caretakers of the garden for future improvements and maintenance.

In the meantime, Hirthler, during the committee meeting at city hall, said perhaps the city could “get in there to clean it.”

Hirthler also suggested a committee member consult with city officials about beautifying the islands at the intersection of Manatee Avenue and East Bay Drive.

“Those two locations really look terrible,” she said.

There was a committee consensus that old plants could be cleared out and new plants added this fall, before a new visitor season begins.

“Even some minor plantings,” Hirthler said. “Low-maintenance plantings, while we decide what its future is.”

“That entranceway to the city is so important,” she said.

King said with the Anna Maria Island Bridge closed, now would be an opportune time to spruce up the spot.

Meanwhile, city workers are nearing completion on a pocket park — a green space with plantings and a path — at Fifth Avenue and 38th Street.

Committee members briefly discussed a request from public works superintendent Joe Duennes to recommend some plants for the small park. The board suggested coontie and liriope muscari.

The committee also endorsed extending a sidewalk from the new pocket park to the small park created and maintained by Regions Bank to the south of the branch building.

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