By BRADEN LAMMERS
NEW ALBANY —
On a crisp fall Saturday morning, a group of volunteers tore out old plants, rooted new vegetation that will survive the colder weather and did it for someone else.
Volunteers with Keep New Albany Clean and Green, a nonprofit organization, partnered with Develop New Albany and the Horseshoe Foundation of Floyd County for a cleanup and planting event.
“It’s to clean up and beautify downtown New Albany,” said Irv Stumler, president of Keep New Albany Clean and Green. “I think it gives us a lot better first impression as people come through the city, and it makes all the people in town more proud to be here.”
Jerry Finn, executive director of the Horseshoe Foundation of Floyd County, said it is the third year for the biannual event, which hosts a spring and fall cleanup and planting.
Stumler said about 30 volunteers spread out over about 10 blocks in downtown to pick up trash, weed, mulch, replace flowers and plants in planters at the corners of intersections and in bumpouts throughout downtown.
As workers ripped out flowers in the planters, they were replaced with pansies and winter cabbage. The plants are paid for through individual donations and funding through the Horseshoe Foundation of Floyd County.
Beyond a spruce-up, the beautification event may serve a larger purpose.
“It’s a good thing to do because to build community pride, you have to feel your community looks its best at all times,” said Gina Anderson, agriculture and horticulture resources and economic community development educator for the Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service in New Albany, and who also sits on the board for Keep New Albany Clean and Green. “When it looks good, people feel good about it.”
She said by maintaining the city and engendering community pride, more development and people will be interested in New Albany.
“By looking its best, it’s also going to draw more people,” Anderson said. “You’ll always love to showcase what you love and if people love the town, they’re going to draw in more people.”
Stumler said that draw into the city starts at welcome signs the group installed last year at the highway interchanges and entrances to the city. Keep New Albany Clean and Green maintains the landscaping near the signs, but the effort to keep downtown in pristine condition is something that he hopes will spread outside the 10-block radius where the volunteers are working.
“[These are] quality of life issues that gives New Albany a better face, a better look, so the residents can be more proud,” Stumler said. “And by doing this, we also improve property values. Cleaning up, fixing up, is contagious. You do it in one place, other people get encouraged to do their own properties. So it’s not all our effort, it’s individuals who want to make a difference.”