High Volume of Applications Received for Superior Landscaping Program, Reaching Hundreds
Superior City in Wisconsin is set to embark on an innovative initiative called the Scenery and Home Program, aimed at enhancing curb appeal, addressing stormwater runoff, and promoting pollinator habitats in city neighborhoods through landscaping grants. The program will allocate $30,000 from the city’s Neighborhood Improvement Fund to provide landscaping and maintenance services for a select group of six to 12 highly visible homes.
Councilor Jenny Van Sickle, the driving force behind the pilot project, initially envisioned a small-scale program to test the waters of improving neighborhood aesthetics. However, the response from the community far exceeded expectations. Within the first 72 hours of the application period, an impressive 150 applications flooded in, and by the end of the first week, the number surpassed 200. Ultimately, a remarkable total of 350 residents eagerly submitted applications during the month-long application process.
Van Sickle expressed her delight at the overwhelming interest, stating that the response had shattered their initial expectations. She acknowledged that they had hoped for at least a few applications, but the magnitude of the community’s enthusiasm was truly remarkable. The positive reception indicated that the city’s efforts were indeed striking a chord with its residents.
Under the Scenery and Home Program, the funding will cover the cost of initial planting for one year, followed by maintenance for the subsequent year. Van Sickle had incorporated suggestions from the public, gathered during the city’s comprehensive planning process, to design the pilot program, which received approval for two planting cohorts.
The applications received for the program encompassed every corner of the city, reflecting the widespread interest among residents. Van Sickle acknowledged that the selection process would be challenging, given the high number of viable applications. She expressed her desire to find a way to sustain the program for the benefit of the community, emphasizing its value in terms of beautification and overall community enhancement.
The Scenery and Home Program gained traction organically, even before the city had an opportunity to extensively promote it through various channels. Stephanie Becken, the city’s planning technician, was amazed by the sheer volume of applications received, emphasizing the enthusiasm and understanding exhibited by the community. She highlighted the rarity of such a substantial response and noted that 95% of the applications were deemed viable. Becken, who also manages grant applications for the city’s popular small business grant program, expressed her enthusiasm and appreciation for the community’s active participation.
Out of the 350 applications, only six were eliminated due to properties falling outside the city limits or non-residential property nominations. Becken efficiently sifted through the applications using Google Forms, enabling her to quickly narrow down potential sites. Focusing on individuals residing on corner lots or along prominent travel corridors as priorities established by the Plan Commission, Becken managed to compile a shortlist of 35 applicants.
Missinne’s Greenhouses and Landscaping has been chosen as the contractor responsible for executing the program’s landscaping projects. Mary Missinne, the owner, will carefully review the list of applicants to determine which yards are suitable for projects within the scope of the program.
City staff will conduct further evaluations of the applicants, and the finalists will be presented to the Plan Commission during its July 19 meeting for review. The final approval from the City Council is expected on August 1.
The work on the initial three homes is anticipated to commence from August to September, according to Becken. While a minimum of three yards will be included in the first cohort, Becken expressed optimism about the possibility of accommodating a few additional projects if feasible. The plan is to replicate the program next year and undertake three more landscaping projects to extend the program’s impact.