(Jan Treuter, photos Tom Treuter, Sept. 20, 2017)
Pleasant Ridge, MI – The owners of four homes were honored for their beautification efforts at the Pleasant Ridge City Commission meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 12. They were selected by a committee of seven residents, facilitated by City Commissioner Jay Foreman.
Early this summer, each member of the committee was assigned an area of the city from which to nominate two or three award-worthy homes. Those nominations were thoroughly reviewed, discussed and debated by the group until two homes east and two homes west of Woodward Ave. emerged as the 2017 awardees. Award winners received a custom-designed tile and photograph of their home. Special lawn signs are posted on their lawns for the next two weeks, announcing that they are this year’s award-winning homes.
Also at the presentation, special recognition was given to city staff, the Pleasant Ridge Foundation, and the community at large for the planning, development, installation, and financial support of the Gainsboro Park transformation project.
2017 Pleasant Ridge Beautification Award Winners
Two stately lions flank the stone walkway and porch steps at 28 Maywood. The café-au-lait exterior is accented with crisp white, emphasizing the architectural details. Well-groomed beds curve around the home’s foundation and are filled with shaggy grasses, glossy hosta, flowering sedum and a tidy boxwood hedge. Brightly colored annuals and a striking fuchsia hydrangea add just the right pop of contrast, and a small tree brings the landscape into balance with the home. Special attention also is given to the side views with a hosta bed curving around on the left and pachysandra lining the driveway on the right. This great- ooking home is the work of James Riggio and Curtis Edgar.
52 Fairwood is a real stand-out on the block. Taupe and white define its cottage-style charm, accented with a deep burgundy door featuring a unique, personalized decoration. An inviting front porch patio is set with a black iron table and two chairs, repeating the black iron of the stair rail. Elegant pots are filled to overflowing with a variety of annuals, including the deep burgundy of sweet potato vine. Raised beds on either side of the porch are filled with mature hydrangeas on the right and a low boxwood hedge to the left that is fronted by an abundance of small pink roses. White double begonias surrounding a small Japanese maple in the lawn repeat the accent colors, and a flower-filled side window box completes the home of Allison Lavoie.
There’s a casual elegance to the home of Mark and Laurie Bolach at 106 Cambridge. Stonework pillars are topped with spectacularly planted pots. Approaching the porch, a garden bench sits to the left, and a boxwood-lined pebbled concrete path leads to the driveway on the right. Brown shutters and crisp white trim are the perfect complement to the taupe clapboard siding, softened by foundation plantings of creamy lime, pompom hydrangeas. At the far left a nicely trimmed tree is surrounded by sedum and connected to the porch by a line of shrub roses. A basket and crate arrangement on the porch and a flurry of flags add a touch of Americana to this Cape Cod-style home.
“What was going on at #3 Poplar Park?” Everyone was talking about the transformation – every step of the way — as it played out on one of the most visible properties in Pleasant Ridge. Reactions of shock and awe swept the community when the old plantings were ripped out, a stone ledge and front path that seemed to match NOTHING were installed, and the entire brick building was painted stark white. What were they thinking??!!!
But it all came together , starting with a creamy ivory top coat and dark-toned roof. A row of boxwoods and plumed grasses now outlines the broad front patio. On the turf level, thoughtfully arranged plantings of varying textures include hosta, hydrangea, lambs ear, feathery coreopsis and astilbe, punctuated with touches of purple lavender and Russian sage that echo the subtle shades of a nearby tri-color beech. Well-sized evergreens and purple-leafed heuchera define the Woodward corner of the property. New homeowners Scott Laslie and Alex Guerrero tell us it’s still a work in progress as they await the arrival of custom replicas of Spanish revival light fixtures to replace those currently on the façade, a unique bench that will be set left of the entrance, a large planter to go on the right, and more plantings along the drive and into the back yard. Nevertheless, the Beautification Committee felt this renovation already deserved its award.
Special mention –
While it’s not actually included in our assigned duties, the Beautification Committee could not let this year’s awards presentation go by without recognizing what may be the most significant beautification effort this city has ever seen.
The reinvention and rehabilitation of Gainsboro Park has literally changed the landscape of Pleasant Ridge. A nice park has now become a spectacular recreational oasis, enjoyed by residents of all ages, levels of ability, energy, and interest. Tots jump and climb without fear of skinned knees, play hide and seek under the bridge, or scamper up to wave at the train engineer passing by. Older children spin on the giant ball, climb a rock wall, kick a soccer ball or smack a baseball deep into the outfield. And the tennis and basketball courts are more popular than ever. Gardeners have a sunny and attractive spot – with accessible water — to grow juicy tomatoes, crisp cucumbers, and bushels of zucchini. Our neighborhood dogs have a safe place to run and play, and entire families can enjoy a stroll along the meandering path through the park from end to end. For many, the conversation pit by the shelter has proven to be a good spot to sit, relax, maybe read a book, or even host a birthday party.
Working on this project over the past year, it has become evident that it takes an entire community to create a truly incredible and inclusive park. First and foremost, we want to recognize the tireless contributions, insight and enthusiasm of our Parks and Recreation Director Scott Pietrzak, City Manager Jim Breuckman, and Assistant Recreation Director Shawnie Stamper. With their guidance and personal input from countless residents who attended special community focus groups and commission meetings, we were able to capitalize on the expertise of the recreational design company Living Lab to customize a plan that met and even exceeded the collected desires of Pleasant Ridge residents.
But it all would have been just a nice idea were it not for our residents endorsing and supporting the vision by approving a special millage for the parks, and for the generous donations provided through the expert fundraising efforts of the Pleasant Ridge Foundation, as well as many individual contributors. Furthermore, we applaud the Pleasant Ridge City Commission for its unwavering support of the process, often accompanied by lively discussion, debate and compromise.
To everyone involved in every big and small way, congratulations and thank you for creating the new and improved Gainsboro Park, and for keeping the vision alive as we continue to make improvements there and at our 4 Ridge Recreation Center to better meet the changing needs of our community.