Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Lookin' Better Residents Dress Up Areas with City's Help

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Lookin' Better Residents Dress Up Areas with City's Help

Article excerpt

ATLANTIC BEACH -- Day lilies of all colors line each side of the concrete walkway at the 14th Street beach access.

The access used to be lined with rocks and sand spurs.

At the Dewees Street access, dark concrete used to burn people's feet. Pipes protruding from the ground used to cut people's feet. Now there's a brick path that's "cool to the feet," as one neighbor said. There's also a shower, trash can, plants, flowers and an irrigation system.

People are spending their own time and money -- some get financial help from the city -- to beautify their neighborhoods' entrances to the beach. They don't want their beach experiences to begin with treks through rubble.

Steve Rosenbloom, who lives near the 14th Street access, and some of his neighbors paid for and planted the day lilies about eight years ago. The neighbors have a work party about every two years. They collect funds and spruce up the area.

"It's made a huge difference in our neighborhood," Rosenbloom said. "It brings out the commonality of everyone."

The project led Rosenbloom, who was a city commissioner from 1993 to 1997, to suggest the city start a program to help residents beautify and maintain some of the city's 20 beach accesses.

"My goal, long-term, was that it would lead to all the accesses being beautified and landscaped, but in different ways," Rosenbloom said.

That's what happened.

The city started the Street End/Beach Access Beautification Program about five years ago. Through the program, the city matches up to $2,500 what neighborhood committees raise to improve accesses.

Residents near the Dewees Street access used the program in 1998 to improve their access, said Kelly Elmore, who helped lead the improvement effort.

"It was a mess," Elmore said.

But not anymore.

Elmore and his neighbors raised about $4,000 and used another $2,500 from the city to replace the hot walkway with a brick path that is "cool to the feet," Elmore said. Then they added the other amenities, including the shower, flowers and irrigation system.

"The community got together, all pitched in a hand, donated money and we got it done," Elmore said. …

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