County opens wallet to a subdivision
By JACKIE RIPLEY, Times Staff Writer
TOWN 'N COUNTRY -- A couple of small grants are helping a northwest Hillsborough neighborhood put its best foot forward. In fact, before it's over, the subdivision's entryway will have a whole new pedicured appearance.
"The civic association has a long-range plan to upgrade our entryway medians," said Bob Hicks, president of the Tampa Shores/Imperial Key Civic Association. So far, "we've put in lighting and remodeled the front entry."
As part of its improvement plan, the civic association this year applied for, and received, two $1,500 neighborhood beautification grants. The first defrayed the cost of an irrigation system; the second, awarded this month, will pay for drought-resistant plants.
"The program has been around for a couple of years and gives citizens an opportunity to improve their neighborhood," said David Ash Jr., a neighborhood program coordinator in the county's Office of Neighborhood Relations. "It's been very successful and popular."
The county dispenses grants twice a year. Projects have included community health fairs, Web site development, neighborhood safety, children's programs, sports and recreation, and beautification.
Grants range from $350 to $1,500.
"We encourage a variety of projects," Ash said. "It helps residents to come together to help themselves."
Grant money comes from Hillsborough County, the Children's Board and the Frank E. Duckwall Foundation with the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay, Ash said.
Tampa Shores/Imperial Key, south of Hillsborough Avenue, is a 240-home subdivision built in the early 1960s. Many of the homes back up to saltwater canals. Homeowners are in the first year of a four-year beautification project that includes planting drought-resistant foliage on two large medians at the entrance on Tampa Shores Boulevard.
"We put drought-resistant plants in the median where the grass was dying," Hicks said. But "first we had to get a watering irrigation system installed."
The first grant paid for part of the $4,000 system. The balance came from the neighborhood civic association and community taxing district.
The second grant will pay for dought-resistant plants such as miniature jasmine and liriope.
Every fiscal year the Office of Neighborhood Relations budgets about $50,000 for community projects. On June 5, the Hillsborough County Commission approved $43,660 in minigrants for 36 neighborhood associations, including several in north Tampa.
For more information about the neighborhood grants, call the Office of Neighborhood Relations at (813) 272-5860 or go online at www.hillsboroughcounty.org/onr/home.html.
-- Jackie Ripley can be reached at (813) 269-5308 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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