For many years in this space, I have written about different aspects of the continuing effort to revitalize the downtown, and the entire town.
This week, in honor of the warm weather this past weekend that brought people outside and to farm markets around the area, seeking plants and flowers for their homes and businesses, I am writing about an facet of revitalization that I have never touched on before now.
Landscaping is a critically important part of creating a “look” for the town. Our park areas should always be manicured and have plantings, and this should be done by people who care deeply about how the town looks. In the downtown area, in our pocket parks, at Hammonton Lake Park, at the newly renamed Moss Mill Park and at our schools, there has been a general effort to make the properties as attractive as possible.
One major misstep (you knew this was coming): The solar array on the front lawn of Hammonton High School.
Even that has some value, as an example of what not to do, ever again, anywhere else in town.
Whether you do your own landscaping or hire a qualified landscaper, there is a lot you can do with plantings of every size, flowers and even hardscaping to make your home or office attractive. Some homes and businesses even sculpt bushes into shapes, or have beautiful flower beds.
A note about landscaping of commercial properties: In addition to making the property more attractive, landscaping is good for business. Retail, restaurant and office properties always look more complete and inviting when they are landscaped.
For me, quality landscaping is as important as keeping the building painted or clad in siding or making sure the sidewalks, curbing and parking areas are well-maintained. It all shows that sense of pride to the world, and that translates into more business for commercial property owners and tenants.
Adding landscaping also improves the overall value of a commercial property—as well as a residential property. One of the compliments I hear most often from people who come to Hammonton from elsewhere is how well our local homes are maintained, particularly the lawns and landscaping.
People in Hammonton take great pride in their homes, and they should. Landscaping provides that finishing touch that raises a nice home or business to an “outstanding” level.
In recent years, we have seen properties transformed—particularly the most historic buildings and homes downtown—with new paint schemes, carefully-selected materials and yes, landscaping. I have focused in previous columns on the first two aspects of renewal. This week, I wanted to add green spaces on private properties and throughout town to the list.
The town appears to agree that our green spaces are important, since they had a recent vote to move forward or hiring additional employees specifically dedicated to maintaining the parks. While (as usual) I wish the council was more public in the process of this new effort regarding the parks (they did it after coming out of closed session following the April 24 council meeting)—I do believe it is a good idea to focus on park maintenance going forward.
Hopefully the town will create an example for the private sector to follow.
Gabriel J. Donio is the publisher of The Hammonton Gazette.