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New Suburb Beautiful

Garden sprouts in shade of Crosstown

A four-tiered fountain will be the focal point of the garden, which will mark the entrance to New Suburb Beautiful.

By SUSAN THURSTON, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published February 28, 2003


Even the most imaginative gardening group might have trouble beautifying space underneath an overpass.

Not the Amaryllis Garden Circle.

The club, with help from the New Suburb Beautiful Civic Association, has come up with a plan to adorn their neighborhood entrance along Howard Avenue, where it meets the Lee Roy Selmon Crosstown Expressway.

The project started with shade-loving plants and will end with a four-tiered fountain.

Organizer Bettie Nelson calls it the neighborhood's piece de resistance.

"We're hoping that it will send a message to the community when they are driving by that there is an old, lovely, established neighborhood on the other side of this busy, commercial street," she said.

Nelson and the garden group began working on the plan in 2001, although ongoing landscaping projects date to the mid-1970s. Residents didn't like the dark, lifeless space under the Crosstown and wanted a warmer welcome to their neighborhood.

"The whole thing was just ugly," said Nelson, a resident since 1967.

Last year, the city spent about $30,000 to landscape and irrigate the small site near Watrous Avenue. To finish the project, the garden club offered to buy and maintain the fountain.

"The landscaping is nice but there's not a lot of vertical elements," said Karla Price, a city landscape architect. "The fountain provides vertical interest."

Getting the work done has taken the cooperation of the city, the Florida Department of Transportation and the Tampa-Hillsborough County Expressway Authority, which runs the Crosstown. Hillsborough County also gave a $800 grant.

The City Council on Feb. 13 approved an agreement between the parties and expects to have the deal completed in about a month, Price said.

The garden club has raised about $1,100 to buy the concrete, Italian-style fountain. A developer in the area has donated two bronze cranes to go next to it.

Nelson, who spearheaded the project with fellow garden club member Terrell Clark, said the fountain will help drown out the roar of cars passing overhead. People walking to restaurants and bars on Howard will have something pretty to look at instead of boring, dead mulch.

"This is something for everyone to enjoy," she said.

-- Susan Thurston can be reached at 226-3394 or thurston@sptimes.com .

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