By Susan L. Wright
The City of Ormond Beach has one really attractive entrance -- over the years, the city has improved Granada Boulevard from Interstate 95 to State Road A1A with palm trees, lots of flowering plants and lush oleanders.
The entrance from the other I-95 exit, just a couple of miles to the north, onto U.S. 1 isn't quite so gorgeous.
Now, with the urging of a group named the North U.S. 1 Coalition, the city has decided that will change.
The city has already been granted $500,000 for landscaping the medians along U.S. 1 form the Florida Department of Transportation. It will be available in the fall 2015.
But that's not quite enough, according to Peggy Farmer, organizer and coalition spokeswoman.
The coalition wants to get started earlier and they've already raised $20,000 to get it going, not just because they're anxious to make the medians along U.S. 1 more appealing, but also because the state grant doesn't include any money for irrigation.
So they went to the City Commission for a match to the money they've raised and plan to ask the county to make an equal contribution to the project.
With several commissioners expressing their enthusiasm for the project and their pride in the city's already existing landscaping along the main corridor into the heart of the city, the City Commission voted unanimously to come up with matching funds. And they voted to include funding for the project in next year's budget.
Ms. Farmer said the Volusia County Council is slated to vote on contributing $20,000 to match the funds raised by the private-sector coalition and, after talks with the county manager, she is confident they too will be ready to pitch in.
The project will actually start on a section of U.S. 1 that is in the county and continue as far as Hull Road.
She said if both the city and county are on board, the project, including installing the piping and other support structure for an irrigation system for the medians, should be ready to begin in spring 2015.
The coalition is composed of about 25 representatives of businesses along the north U.S. 1 corridor and civic leaders, including some former mayors.
The beautification project will include adding trees, shrubs and groundcover to the medians, as well as the irrigation system to support those additions. The project will still require getting FDOT approval and permits.
The first phase of the project will include upgrading and adding plants to the first three medians south of the I-95 overpass as well as installing an irrigation system.
The second phase, using the $500,000 FDOT grant, is due to start in the fall 2015 and will continue the upgrading of the medians all the way to Hull Road.