By Peggy Kelly
Santa Paula Times
Even if Santa Paula does not win a national beautification contest the community still wins, the founder of the local chapter of America in Bloom told the City Council at the January 6 meeting.
Dianne Davis, who with her husband Dudley owns Do Right’s Plant Nursery and founded the local AIB chapter in 2010, did a presentation on the competition before the council decided later in the meeting whether or not to sponsor the contest.
The council with a unanimous 5-0 vote approved spending $1,099 for the application fee for the competition that includes a site visit by judges that will pit Santa Paula against cities of a similar size across the nation.
America in Bloom was founded in 2001.
Davis said entering the competition is the logical next step after years of local beautification efforts, started years before by the Davis’ who donated their resources for Main Street improvements.
Judging for the competition will hinge on six criteria ranging from floral displays, landscaped areas and urban forestry to environmental friendliness, heritage and overall impression.
The city will have to show support by providing information on programs such as tree preservation and policies and although the criteria of heritage is “A big one,” Davis said she is confident Santa Paula would be a leader in the category.
“Santa Paula has done so much to preserve,” its heritage and iconic buildings noted Davis and “The murals are another real plus...we know we’re a win in this category.”
Overall impression includes general cleanliness, an absence of graffiti, debris and weeds removed from public areas as well as policies governing same.
“All it takes is community involvement,” and Davis said, “If we all step up I think we could win the contest, at least place in it.”
Davis said the AIB chapter is also hoping to produce a promotional video such as Arroyo Grande, which has won the competition in the past.
“There are so many things we do with our community to make it a better place to be,” she noted.
Councilman Bob Gonzales complimented the Davis’ for their efforts on behalf of the community and thanked them and AIB, noting, “You made a significant difference to how Santa Paula looks...”
The Davis’ and AIB said Councilman Martin Hernandez, have “Provided a splash of color,” and energy to the community.
Such beautification efforts said Vice Mayor Jim Tovias, “Are really incredible,” including the recent clean up of the Bike Trail that “lifted the community’s spirit incredibly” and he thanked Dianne Davis “for your leadership,” as well as Gary Nasalroad, coordinator of the AIB Bike Trail partnership.
He noted that others have gotten involved in AIB projects.
Said Davis, “That’s what we are asking, for the city to come out and clean up the community. Even if we don’t win,” the AIB national competition, she noted, “we win,” with a more beautiful community.
Later in the meeting when the council approved paying the contest entry fee Mayor Rick Cook thanked the Davis’ for their devotion to Santa Paula.
Although their nursery is located outside city limits, “And your tax dollars go to the county,” Cook noted, “Your love and dedication is coming to the city...”
The city has until the end of February to enter the contest; winners are expected to be announced in September.