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Date of Issue: February 10, 2010

Beautification committee seeks stimulus grant

The Holmes Beach Parks and Beautification Committee is taking steps toward a Florida Forest Health Improvement Initiative Grant, the committee announced at its Feb. 3 meeting at Holmes Beach City Hall.

The federal stimulus grant could provide the committee from $2,000-$24,000. The committee said it would use the grant to add trees along the north side of Manatee Avenue just inside the Holmes Beach city limits and east of Westbay Cove condominiums.

About two years ago, county workers removed invasive species from what is now a grassy area. Since that time, numerous Westbay Cove residents, such as Ruth de Haan, have asked the city to beautify the area.

“It would be good,” said de Haan, a visitor at the meeting. “We’ve been asking for this for a couple years.”

The deadline to apply for the grant is Feb. 12.

The committee has to see if it can come up with a scope for the project to match the requirements of the grant. For example, no trees can be more than 4 inches in diameter, and none can cost more than $400.

Criteria that committee members said will help them qualify for the grant includes Manatee County’s 12 1/2 percent unemployment rate, one of the highest in the state, and the committee’s progress in becoming a Tree City USA. Each category adds up to points that help applicants qualify.

“We’ll write as much in the bid as we can, and get as many points as we can,” said committee member Fred Heger.

Tim Eiseler, a Keep Manatee Beautiful board member, helped the city of Anna Maria recently receive the distinction of a Tree City USA by overseeing the city’s application.

Eiseler has reviewed the Holmes Beach application and tree ordinance and he’s optimistic about Holmes Beach’s chances of becoming a Tree City USA.

“Your ordinance is far better than Anna Maria’s used to be,” Eiseler told the committee.