NAUGATUCK — Borough residents and community groups now have an opportunity to make their town just a little bit nicer.
The Naugatuck Blight and Beautification Council has started an adopt-a-spot program for volunteers who want to improve the town by planting flowers and shrubs or just picking up litter.
In the past, many people asked whether they could do something to make Naugatuck better, according to council Co-chair BJ Forlenzo.
“Well, here’s the chance to do it,” she said.
The council kicked off the program last Saturday by landscaping its own adopted spot at the municipal lot bus stop on Church Street.
The council hoped to use that time to allow people to come down and talk with council members about the program and how to get involved.
Forlenzo said one couple stopped by while she was planting to ask about adopting their own spot and other passers-by asked questions about the project.
“It went very well,” she said. “We got a lot of compliments.”
Borough resident Jim Miele has already adopted a spot across the street from Tuttle Building. Although he decided to do the project on his own, his vision fits in with the Beautification Council’s goals.
He is working with landscape designer Sheri Budnik to create a small garden with the letter “N” made from boxwood shrubs. Burgess Bob Neth, who is vice president of Connecticut Signcraft, will create two signs for the site with solar lights so it lights up at night. Miele will maintain the landscape once it is installed, he said.
Miele said the project would enhance the look of Naugatuck. He said he picked the spot because it can be seen from three different locations.
“When everybody sees the finished project, they’ll understand why Naugatuck is a nice town,” Miele said.
Matt Smith and Scott Dudas of Giuseppe’s Italian Pizzeria donated $1,000 for the project.
The project was approved by the Street Department Council, Miele said.
“We are the first ones, and hopefully it can show other people they can do the same thing,” Miele said. “When you see something nice, you want to make what’s around it nice.”
The Beautification Council has a list of islands and areas in town for people to adopt, but people can also choose to adopt a spot in their own neighborhood or school. Some areas on the list include Cotton Hollow Park, Flander’s Road, Inga Circle, Kingswood Drive, and the North Church Street island.
“It could be anywhere,” Forlenzo said.
The project is a component of the blight ordinance passed last summer with the goal of beautifying the borough. The ordinance called for a blight officer position, which was not funded in the borough budget heading to referendum later this month, but that does not stop citizens from making their own efforts.
With the economy slowly recovering, Forlenzo said sprucing up the town couldn’t hurt.
“I think we could only help by presenting Naugatuck in a nicer fashion,” she said.
Forlenzo said the council has taken a long time and much input from many residents to make sure it did things right.
“We’re hoping that as many people told us this is such a great idea, and they want to get involved, will actually get involved,” Forlenzo said.
Unlike many other communities, Naugatuck won’t charge a fee for adoptees to become a part of adopt-a-spot.
“We also realize that things are tight,” Forlenzo said.
She said most communities charge $250 to $400 for a spot, but volunteers for this program will only have to pay for plantings and signs if they want to put them in.
Residents who want to adopt a street to keep clean won’t even have to buy garbage bags. They can pick them up from the Street Department.
The Beautification Council is now under the umbrella of the Naugatuck Economic Development Corporation in order to take advantage of the NEDC’s 501(c)3 nonprofit status. Without the non-profit status, donations to the group wouldn’t be tax deductible.
The council is planning a fund-raising letter campaign to local businesses in the near future.
“We’re doing it for the long term,” Forlenzo said.
Aside from anyone looking to adopt a spot, the council is also seeking volunteers to help replant and mulch all the trees on Church Street from Town Hall to the end of the street near Rite Aid on Sunday mornings from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. The landscaping in the area was destroyed during winter snowstorms, according to Linda Ramos, co-chair of the council.
“This is how we and the community work together to make Naugatuck a much better-looking community for those living and working here and for the hopes of new people coming into the Naugatuck area,” Ramos wrote in an e-mail.