Earlier this year we decided to take a run at the America in Bloom awards and I’m pleased to report that Mayor Fiala returned from the Annual America in Bloom conference this week with a fistful of recognition for Kent.
America in Bloom is a national organization that recognizes communities for their commitment and actions towards historic preservation, urban landscaping and tree care, floral displays and community beautification efforts. With everything going on downtown and on campus, we felt like this was a good time to put our hat in the ring and see what sort of impression we can leave on the judges.
Here’s a look at our America in Bloom application Lots of great pictures of Kent, definitely worth checking out. Special thanks to Kent resident Jon Ridinger for gathering and sharing information on Kent that was used in the application!
It turned out that the judges were impressed enough to award the City special recognition for historic preservation citing examples like the Pufferbelly, the old hotel, the old courthouse and the Wells Sherman House — and we won the best streetscape landscaping award which came out of their very favorable impression of all of the adopt a spot gardens, hanging flower baskets, campus landscaping and the private landscaping along Main Street.
We were worried that the planned site inspection in July would be a tough time for plants since it would be peak summer heat but the wetter than normal June produced abundant flower blooms right on cue for the America in Bloom visit.
Providence was clearly looking out for Kent this summer. We worked like crazy to get ready but a little luck and divine intervention never hurts.
The America in Bloom recognition is like the good housekeeping stamp of approval. They compare your community to the best and the brightest around the country and make awards decisions based on how you stack up.
With our Economic Development Director still working his way back to full health, Mayor Fiala volunteered to fly to Florida to represent Kent at the national America in Bloom awards conference. They don’t reveal the winners ahead of time so we struggled over the spending the money for the trip not knowing if we’d come up empty handed or not.
In the end we decided it was worth the risk because even if we didn’t win the Mayor would have a great chance to mingle with our peer cities, pitch Kent’s revival and learn a few pointers from communities that have been at this work for years. It was a good call and the Mayor was not disappointed wit
The Mayor was proud to report that there was a buzz at the Conference over Kent’s downtown redevelopment and he said that we received a lot of accolades for featuring so much natural plantings and green space in the pedestrian oriented, walkable downtown space. A lot of thought went into the “green” elements so it’s encouraging to have it be recognized.
Plus, there’s more to come with Davey Tree, the City and KSU signing an agreement last week committing to share in the costs of upgrading the landscape plantings along Haymaker Parkway between Water Street and Depeyster Street — and now that the fall planting season is just about upon us PARTA is hustling to get their landscaping wrapped up along Haymaker Parkway as well.
It’s easy to get caught up in the big new buildings downtown but I know I’m driving the City Engineer crazy with all my requests for what I consider the finishing touches — the plantings, new benches, new bike racks, painting the older light poles to match the new ones, public art — all the little stuff that in the end will make a big difference.
The awards from American in Bloom this year affirm the importance of the details so we’re going to keep sweating the small stuff. I can’t wait to show off the small stuff next year when we invite America in Bloom back into town.