By SKEETER TOWER
Special to the OBSERVER
There is a bright new spot on Route 60 at Main and Sixth Street in Dunkirk which you might have noticed. This collection of flower gardens surrounding the trees is the result of neighbors and sponsors getting together to make a difference. It is a part of the grass roots revitalization project called "The Main Thing: This Block Matters." This most recent accomplishment is a community garden, and according to Mayor A.J. Dolce, the first in the city's new initiative to promote community gardens.
The Pagan family plants a new flower garden.
Noberto and Elva Mercado, who live adjacent to the small park, first stepped up to offer water for the gardens, essential in this dry summer. Topsoil was donated and delivered by Mancuso Nurseries. Plants were donated by Hamlet Farms, M&R Flowers, Mancuso nurseries, Sally and Joe Muscato and Ann Weiss-Bingham. Donations were also received from The Center for Peace and Justice and the Social Action Committee of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Northern Chautauqua.
Lisa Pagan and her grandchildren came to plant flowers along with Rose Martinez, a student at Chautauqua Opportunity's Transitional Living Program. Weiss-Bingham, Judy Lutz-Woods and her grandchildren also helped with the flowers. Bonnie Pagan and her children helped distribute the mulch which the City of Dunkirk provided.
Lake Shore Savings Bank has awarded the neighborhood group a grant to provide for sixteen new, urban trees along the block, replacing larger trees long since removed. Students from SUNY Fredonia are scheduled to help the neighborhood plant the trees on Sept. 22. Residents Jeff Ortel and Nikki Singer advocated for better lighting and a new street light was installed in the middle of the 600 block. Jeff and Nikki also have pressed for the new trees so the street will have shade, an improved streetscape, and buffer to the impact of heavy truck traffic exhaust .With the large number of small children on the block, residents are concerned about the excessive, speeding commercial traffic on the street and have appealed to Third Ward Councilman Andy Gonzalez to look into the matter and bring it to Common Council for action.
Residents have also requested a Neighborhood Watch sign and signage recognizing the Mendex Corporation, headed by Louis Raimondo, who has offered to "adopt the block" for litter pick up. This will be the first block adoption within the city if Common Council approves the offer. Walmart provided funds to purchase a trash container to be decorated by the neighborhood children and placed conveniently by the walk to collect litter from people leaving the commercial blocks down the street and needing a place to dispose appropriately of snack wrappings.
At the other end of the block, tenants Jean Engman and Amy Allnatt have been tending flowers planted by their landlord. New window boxes are evident on several porches and repairs can be observed at various addresses. Marin Gonzalez at 620 was recognized as a city "Yard of the Week." Good things are happening on the 600 block of Main Street. Community pride is evolving!
Skeeter Tower is a Dunkirk resident. Send comments on this column to firstname.lastname@example.org