Beautification Commission committed to maintaining aesthetic quality of East Hartford
By Corey AmEnde - Staff Writer
East Hartford - posted Fri., Aug. 23, 2013
The next time you’re walking down Main Street, take a minute to stop and smell the flowers in the planter barrels – literally.
If you enjoy these botanical displays, you can thank the town's Beautification Commission; they oversee these planters.
The Beautification Commission started as a volunteer group before becoming a town commission on Feb. 17, 1989. The group has nine members who are all appointed by the mayor and serve two-year terms that can be renewed. The commission receives funding from the town and cannot have more then six members from the same political party. In addition to the nine voting members of the commission, there are also three ex-officio members, including the director of public works, the director of parks and recreation and the zoning enforcement officer.
The commission meets the first Thursday of each month at 5:30 p.m. at the building department conference room in Town Hall. The meetings are open to the public.
The main objective of the commission, according to their operating budget, is “to continue to encourage the citizens of East Hartford to take an active part in beautifying their town by taking pride in their own properties. The commission will continue to support activities designed to benefit the town and its appearance.”
Pat Sirois, chair of the Beautification Commission and also chair of Holiday Fest, said working on the commission is, “a labor of love. I love this town, and I remain here because I believe that there are a lot of good people here. A lot of people do care about this town, even though we get such bad raps all the time, which angers me because there are a lot of people that take care of their property,” added Sirois, who has lived in East Hartford since 1966.
The commission sponsors the annual Holiday Fest which just celebrated 20 years last December. The festival is scheduled to start on Dec. 6 this year and run through Dec. 9. Sirois said there about 36 to 38 events over the four days,and she attends every one of them.
“I feel as my responsibility as chair I need to go to every one, just to welcome and say thank you,” said Sirois.
The group also advises on the good and the bad as it pertains to aesthetics throughout the town. Each month from June to August, the commission will award one residential property and a business a beautification award that is presented at a town council meeting. The commission has been presenting these awards for more than 20 years.
“We figured because we were paying so much attention to blighted properties, we needed to highlight people that were taking good care of their property,” said Sirois. The residential property at 398 Silver Lane and Dunkin Donuts on Silver Lane were the winners for August.
Another role of the commission is to serve as the town’s tree board to comply with the designation of “Tree City USA,” an honor awarded to the town since 1997 by the National Arbor Day Association. “We have been ‘Tree City,’ and this is one of my pride and joys,” said Sirois, who estimates there are about 20 towns in Connecticut with this distinction. “It’s kind of a great feather in our cap.”
In order to qualify for the award a town must have a tree board and a tree warden, keep an inventory of all the public trees in town and remain committed to the maintenance and preservation of all public trees. The commission has to re-apply for the honor every year.