Written by Matthew Ern, firstname.lastname@example.org Friday, 15 August 2014 00:00
Newscaster Tom Brokaw once said, “It’s easy to make a buck. It’s a lot tougher to make a difference.” If anyone knows the truisms of that quote, it’s the members of the Stewart Manor Beautification Committee. It’s a sentiment echoed by Mayor Gerard Tangredi who had this to say about this all-volunteer organization:
“They’re hard working residents that take care of their families and homes but still find the time to volunteer. They try their hardest to keep Stewart Manor a great place to live in.”
Now, the beautification committee is gearing up for the fall planting season with a host of new projects to spruce up the village. The committee’s volunteers will be meeting with the department of public works to coordinate on a variety of topics that are being considered for future undertakings.
These include a potential new Greenscape in the middle of the Covert Avenue shopping district, replacing the lattice to support flowering vines at the pool, and planting pop-up bulb gardens at four-way stop intersections around the village.
Pending the approval of some Downtown Revitalization Grant funds, the committee is also planning a new Welcome sign and stone wall at the Covert Avenue entrance on the south side of town.
Because the committee is comprised of volunteers and not elected officials, the work being done sometimes goes by unrecognized by the community.
“It’s funny that many folks have no idea that it’s their neighbors making all this happen,” mused committee co-chair Karen Sa.
There are currently 14 members on the committee, and any given project is usually tackled by about two to six of them. Because of a variety of factors, including the age and home-life of the volunteers, the levels of contributions vary from person to person. But Sa and her co-chair Trish Lynch say that the one thing all members have in common is a pride in representing their community.
For these residents, the volunteer aspect of the committee is what makes it truly special. “It’s especially nice as we see volunteerism on Long Island diminishing. We encourage all residents to volunteer and help their community,” said Tangredi.
The committee’s next meeting will be a date to be determined in September. At these planning meetings, members brainstorm ideas and sign up for whatever different projects are being discussed. The timing of these meetings can be tricky because the schedules of the committee, department of public works, and board of trustees all must line up. For this reason, much of the communication is done through an informal email chain.
Responsibilities include the maintenance of the village pool complex, public grounds, seasonal planting of the commercial district with flower pots, holiday decorating, and whatever other special projects get approved.
At the beginning of each fiscal year the committee submits a budget to the board of trustees for approval. The amount of money allocated each year varies, but the average seasonal planting budget is around $600 per quarter with other projects’ approval contingent on whether or not any extra funds can be made available.
Recently, the committee has been involved in a number of efforts including installing new lamp posts on Covert Ave complete with hanging flower baskets with built-in reservoirs to allow for self-watering. Various perennials and rose bushes have been planted around the village, particularly at the pool complex.
A recent partnership with the Floral Park Beautification Committee allowed for the purchase of new holiday wreaths.