Washington Evening Journal
111 North Marion Avenue
Washington, IA 52353
Fairfield Beautification Commission has ambitious agenda
FAIRFIELD — The Fairfield Beautification Commission is looking for new members at a time when it’s undertaking an ambitious agenda.
Commission member Lou Bolster said the commission has six members, but it’s supposed to have 12. He said three members stepped down last fall. The group was able to replace those with three new members: Mary Webster, Yenifer Jimenez and Ava Boyd, adding to the other three existing members of Bolster, Meredith Siemsen and Joanne Reed.
Bolster said he’s hoping to encourage more Fairfield residents to get involved either as new commission members or as volunteers helping with its projects. When Bolster appeared before the Fairfield City Council on Jan. 23 to give the commission’s annual report, he noted that it is asking the city council to double its budget next fiscal year to $6,600. Bolster said this is because the group has high hopes for what it can accomplish.
One of the big projects the commission has planned is revamping the downtown garden nodes. Bolster said the nodes’ flowers produce nice color, but only for a short time, so the commission wants to plant more flowers so the nodes will be colorful throughout the growing season.
The commission works closely with the Fairfield Parks Department since a lot of the commission’s work involves sprucing up public places. Bolster said one of the group’s targets for this year is improving Howard Park. The commission has already done some work at the park, such as removing abandoned concrete pieces in its northwest corner, and helping to facilitate a group of volunteers who painted colorful designs on the park’s tables.
Bolster said one of the recent additions to Howard Park includes planting a “peace tree” in the northwest corner. The group did this in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last February. Bolster said the commission chose to plant a ginkgo tree because it is one of the oldest trees, and a hardy one, too, since ginkgo trees were among the few living things to survive the atomic blast at Hiroshima.
Few residents even know about the peace tree yet, Bolster said, but this spring the commission wants to add a marker next to the tree with a poem, and possibly install a bench.
Another project at Howard Park involves revamping a pedestal that might have held a sun dial many decades ago. Bolster said the commission wants to save the pedestal and put something new on it, either a new sun dial or another sculpture.
The beautification commission is planning to help with a major public art project announced in November, a mural that would span the railroad underpass on North Fourth Street. Chad Starling has agreed to paint the mural, and will undertake the project with help from the Fairfield Cultural Alliance and Fairfield Beautification Commission.
Another railroad-related project the commission has planned is remodeling the dead end streets that were created just over 10 years ago when the city decided not eliminate the railroad crossings at North Third and North Eighth streets. Since the city was adopting its Quiet Zone policy, requiring special barriers at the crossings, the city decided it was too costly to install barriers at those two crossings because they were infrequently used.
Bolster said that, in the years since, those former railroad crossings have become overgrown with weeds, and don’t look nice. Commission members have suggested putting planters that could double as vehicle barriers. Bolster said the city could get even more creative by turning those areas into “mini parks,” or sell the land so it could be developed into commercial or residential uses.
On top of all of those activities planned for the future, the commission will continue to do its “Streetsweepers Ball,” where volunteers are invited to help commission members clean up the downtown. It will also continue to bestow its “Rose Award” on property owners who beautify their land.
“If you bend over backwards and give your garden a facelift, we want to recognize that,” Bolster said.
Call Andy Hallman at 641-575-0135 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org