While I was on sick leave from my “real job” I was looking for ways to be able to help our town with our efforts to try and beautify our town center area. Unfortunately our town is like so many other small towns, basically no funds to do anything to make the town look better, and it presents a real challenge. The property in the area around our town center is owned by the railroad, and like so many other businesses which own so much land, there are no funds available to keep the area beautiful. It is hard enough to keep the railroad operating much less to try to beautify the areas around the tracks.
The Eastern Shore Tourism Commission has been trying to find ways to help the towns to spruce up their areas and we were fortunate in that a local architect, John Snyder, donated his time to draw up an architectural plan for our town center and/or our actual downtown area. Robert Lentz, a citizen of the Eastern Shore has also been instrumental in helping us to try and realize our goal to beautify the town. Both of these men have spent countless hours in assisting us in helping to make this “vision” become a reality. When I saw the plan, I thought what a nice idea and lovely plan for our town. I then began to wonder how on earth to make it a reality. Consequently my search for grants to help us attain the goal began.
I felt very fortunate when I located the KVB grant and thought that if we could get this grant it would definitely be a start for our project and give us something to build upon. I applied for the grant with high hopes but never dreamed that we would be successful, as I am certainly not a grant writer, but someone with a willing heart and spirit only. You cannot imagine how thrilled I was to receive notice from KVB that our town was successful in obtaining the grant.
Obtaining the grant meant that now we needed to obtain permission from the railroad and secure a lease in order to proceed with our plans for our downtown. This would be the first of many hurdles. The railroad was willing to give us a lease but we also had to comply with their requirements for planting and make sure we were not too close to the tracks, so as to impede their daily treks up and down the Shore. After obtaining this permission, then we had to find a local nursery that would be willing to do the planting and within the budgeted amount. We contacted 3 different businesses and only one, Hortco Garden Center, expressed any immediate interest in working with us to provide a quote and talk with us regarding this project. During the time we were working on the planning aspects of who, what, where and when, our area developed a drought condition and I certainly did not want to risk planting and losing the trees and being frivolous with our grant funds.
We have finally been successful in jumping all the hurdles in our path and our crepe myrtle trees are now established. They are planted in a platform that is close to the railroad tracks. This platform has historical significance to our town, in that it is where the train used to “throw the mail off the train as it passed through Nassawadox”. The trains did not stop, just hooked the mail bag on a “mail hook” and proceeded down the track. In the past because this platform is a gravel type base, it has grown up in weeds and grass. This summer we will continue to work on further beautifying this platform by keeping the grass under control and exploring ways to further enhance this area in our town.
Our plans for the platform are to try and secure a mail hook, to continue with beautification efforts, and to have signage as to the historical significance of the platform. We are hoping that the platform will become an area where townspeople and travelers alike can come to take a break from their hectic schedules and enjoy the surrounding area, maybe even visit a few of our local shops.
I am so very excited about the efforts of those who have provided us with a “vision” and hope that we are able to continue with our efforts to beautify a most important area in our small town. This will only be possible through the efforts and generosity of many people and organizations.