By JOHN W. GOODWIN JR.
VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF
LIBERTY -- Township residents can expect to see ongoing changes in landscaping and curb appeal in key areas of the township -- changes those involved hope will foster community pride and growth.
A drive along Belmont or Logan avenues, Church Hill Road and Liberty Street might look a little different to some -- particularly those who take the time to look up. Large banners have been affixed to poles along these corridors.
June Smallwood, parks and special projects coordinator, said the banners are part of a plan to promote the township. The banners, she said, give businesses a prominent place to display their names and show community spirit.
The maroon banners, with gold and white lettering and a leopard on the front, are attached to the uppermost section of a pole. The township's Web address and the name of a sponsoring business are on each banner.
"We have been trying to promote Liberty through beautification. We are trying to promote the positives of the township," Smallwood said. "The banners are an effort to combine our school pride with our community pride, so we chose to stick with the leopard, and maroon and gold colors."
The sponsoring township business pays for the banner. The cost is about $500 for one year, but other packages are available, she said.
A Rochester, N.Y. company, CGI Communications Inc., is responsible for installing and maintaining the banners. The company also is responsible for selling the idea to area businesses, Smallwood said.
The banners, she said, are a plus for businesses and the community.
"We felt we wanted to improve the look of the corridors, and these banners show that we really have a lot to be proud of here," she said. "The businesses get the exposure and the opportunity to show they are committed to this community."
Beauty in bloom
Flowers and landscaping also are being added to highly visible sections of the township. Smallwood said motorists will mostly notice work at the Interstate 80 interchanges on Belmont Avenue and Liberty Street.
The landscaping at Belmont Avenue has been completed and cost about $40,000. Township officials have applied to the Ohio Department of Transportation for funding as reimbursement for that work.
A landscape architect, Smallwood said, has devised plans for the Liberty Street interchange at an estimated cost of about $25,000. The township has also applied to the state for funding to cover that work.
Other sections of the township will not be devoid of flowers and new landscaping.
"Right now we have a private volunteer group called Liberty in Bloom that collects donations from businesses and residents, and does plant flowers in various locations around the township," Smallwood said.
The volunteer group has placed flowers at entrances to the township from Youngstown, Hubbard, Girard and Weathersfield. The township will use an independent contractor to maintain the blooming displays.
Liberty officials have also teamed with the Western Reserve Transit Authority to spruce up bus stops throughout the township. Smallwood said bus stops here will soon be adorned with flowers and green space.
Township Administrator Patrick Ungaro said a key component in the township's beautification plans is the participation of township businesses. A letter asking businesses to join the beautification efforts was sent to them earlier this month.
The letter asks business owners to make and maintain improvements such as planting flowers and small changes to the fa & ccedil;ade of some buildings. The letter points out that there are some buildings on the southern part of Belmont in "grave disrepair."
Ungaro said these small commitments from businesses are critical to the business community and the township.
"How do you sell yourself if you don't look good?" he said.