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Grants are out there for the planting

Does your neighborhood need sprucing up? Maybe it can get a makeover with help from the Florida Yards and Neighborhoods Program.

Cooperative Extension Services from Pinellas, Hillsborough and Pasco counties are offering the program to educate homeowners on how to have a Florida-friendly yard. It will also help finance a single community project that will enhance rather than compete with the natural environment.

Competition for part of the $150,000 program is open to neighborhood associations in those three counties.

Mary Beth Pechiney, the Florida Yards and Neighborhoods Program coordinator, said information was mailed to the first 275 of the three counties' 700 listed neighborhood associations last week.

Winners will receive six months of free environmental meetings tailored to the needs of the specific neighborhood and will receive money toward one community work-day project.

An association must have at least 100 members to apply. Neighborhoods with a shoreline or lake will be favored in the selection process. The Tampa Bay National Estuary Program is providing some of the grant money.

Application packets can be obtained by calling Pechiney at 582-2109. The deadline for completed applications is Aug. 1.

Two years ago, the Old Southeast neighborhood in St. Petersburg was the site for the pilot program. The pilot ran from October 1992 through November 1993, and 107 of the 500 homeowners committed to attending monthly workshops on landscaping topics.

As their one-day project, residents chose to focus on designing and planting a native garden in Lassing Park.

So what will you learn if you are the winner?

Workshop topics include fertilizers, creating compost, knowing how and when to water, knowing how to calibrate your sprinkler system, xeriscaping and recycling.

Although the Old Southeast pilot was successful, last year's program attracted little attention when it made its debut. Only 12 applications were received and the three winners were neighborhoods in New Port Richey, Tarpon Springs and Crystal Beach.

This year Pechiney would like to get 50 applications from Pinellas County and select four of those. That may be a tall order, though.

The Harbor Isles neighborhood in St. Petersburg is the only one that has inquired about the program.

In early July, residents of the North Central neighborhood can start checking their mailboxes for important surveys. Association president Glenn Suyker said the survey is the first step in establishing a formal neighborhood plan. If the plan is adopted by the city, it could result in the neighborhood receiving $100,000 for improvements.

North Central comprises the area surrounding the main Public Library, 34th to 49th streets and Central Avenue to 13th Avenue N.

Council of Neighborhood Associations president Karen Mullins recently extended a welcome to the city's newest association, Greater Woodlawn Neighborhood Association Inc. The president is Tom O'Neill.

If your neighborhood would like help forming an association, call Mullins at 528-2332.

Have a good week, neighbors!

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