West Chicago Park District and Ball Horticultural Company provide landscape upgrade for City’s gateway signs
Unexpected things happen when you get a room full of people who love the community, together. The current momentum to further beautify West Chicago began in March 2018 with the first meeting of West Chicago’s 2018 America in Bloom (AiB) committee. Co-sponsored by the West Chicago Park District, the committee consists of various community partners and groups. Since the regular meetings began, amazing things have been happening, are in the works, or are being planned for the future.
Earlier this spring, volunteers gathered downtown to plant the thirteen flower beds alongside Main and Galena Streets. By now, the beds are brimming with color, texture and interest, as are the twelve planters which were filled with a variety of plants including Canna, petunia, sweet potato vine and coleus. Further impact was created through twenty custom planted hanging baskets, which were donated to the City by Ball Horticultural Company of West Chicago.
The West Chicago art community contributed its hand to the streetscape through the creation of original art which was transferred onto 60” x 30” full-color vinyl street banners and the City purchased a new collection of botanical banners proclaiming “West Chicago in Bloom”. All this has resulted in a sweeping panorama of natural and artistic beauty, and Downtown West Chicago has never looked better!
Arguably one of the best ideas to upgrade visual impression citywide came following a round table discussion of AiB committee members reviewing the comments of judges from the City’s previous application of 2013, when judges cited the lack of landscape at the City’s gateway signs as a missed opportunity. The lively discussion led to two community partners, the West Chicago Park District and Ball Horticultural stepping up with a compelling offer. The Park District offered its staff to create beds around each of six gateway signs, and Ball offered to design a landscape plan that would incorporate low-maintenance, native perennial plants and shrubs and donate and install all the plant material. City staff committed to handling the watering and weeding of the landscaped beds going forward.
The stars aligned and the result is a marvelous upgrade for the community which has created a more welcoming first impression for visitors and increased hometown pride for residents.
But, it’s not only about beautification. There have been many wonderful residual benefits that have come from the America in Bloom gatherings. Conversations between groups sitting at the table have resulted in new partnerships and collaborations for the benefit of the community.
For one, a discussion of a particular organization’s surplus garden produce ended up being a conduit to a local food pantry’s need for fresh seasonal fruits and vegetables. Ah ha moments like this one are at the core of the America in Bloom mission, “working together to build a better community”.
The AiB judges arrive on July 25th and spend the next two days touring the community to evaluate West Chicago’s efforts in the categories of Urban Forestry, Environmental Efforts, Flower Displays, Landscaped Areas, Celebrating Heritage, Community Vitality, and Overall Impression.
To learn more about AiB and West Chicago’s efforts to achieve national status as an official America in Bloom City, visit http://westchicago.org/america-in-bloom/.