Chamber awards 10 grants for beautification projects
An idea floated by the Chamber of Commerce board of directors a few years ago has finally come to fruition, and several Marathon businesses along the U.S. corridor will soon look a bit spiffier.
CEO Daniel Samess said the Business Beautification Challenge originally brought to the table in 2008 failed to garner much interest.
“The idea was to host a competition challenging businesses to beautify their exterior with a $10,000 grand prize awarded to the winner,” he explained. “That money was eventually donated to the city for the median planting project.”
The same amount of money was set aside this year following the 35th Original Marathon Seafood Festival with the idea of awarding 10 reimbursable grants to Chamber members with plans to improve their building facades and properties.
Samess added that he and the board were really pleased with the response to this year’s Business-By-Business Beautification program, dubbed B4, to not only encourage an investment in beautification but promoting non-tourism service oriented businesses like painting contractors and landscaping companies.
“We were hoping for 20 applicants initially, and that’s how many we received even though several came in last minute,” he added. “We wanted this to be a tough decision for the board because it was grant money with relatively few strings attached. Next year, we’re hoping for more applicants, and depending on the success of the Seafood Festival, perhaps we’ll even be able to offer more grants.”
Dolphin Research Center founder Mandy Rodriguez was ecstatic this week that the landmark structure in front of his facility on Grassy Key would soon be restored to its original grandeur. The entrepreneur and dolphin expert also dabbles a bit in artistic creations, and in the late 70s, created a clay model of one of the facility’s dolphins, Little Bit, who was part of the Flipper family.
In 1977, Key West-based sculpture company called Fantasy Erections built the two-story tall dolphin on a concrete base with rebar and expanded metal fencing. Years of salt, wind and harsh tropical weather have left the structure in a state of disrepair with significant cracking and faded paint.
“Now, it’s going to get a new paint job and patch up the cracks and make it beautiful again,” Rodriguez beamed proudly.
A fresh coat of paint and concrete repairs are also on the horizon for Marathon Elks Lodge at 8239 Overseas Hwy.
Rose Lavay elaborated that upon completion of the façade improvements, the Elks Lodge would also like to install additional shrubbery around the building.
Jackie and George Eigner of Fish Tales Market and Eatery are anxiously anticipating the repaving of their parking spaces as well as installation of a new awning on their building at the corner of 117th Street and U.S. 1.
“As we do not own the building or property at Fish Tales, we have mostly concentrated on the inside – [offering] good food at fair prices and customer service,” Eigner wrote in her application. “It’s been hard to maintain the outside when you are putting so much of your energy into running the restaurant and fish market.”
The Eigners are also hoping to trim several overgrown banana trees and improve signage.
Improved landscaping are also on tap for Bishop, Rosasco & Co. as well as Fred’s Beds and SALT Services – three more of the Chamber’s grant recipients.
Samess said he was particularly excited about the conversion of an existing coral rock planter in front of Dennis Kulig’s Swimming Pools, Etc. building on the Oceanside corner of 111th Street and U.S. 1 to a water feature.
“What a great way for him to beautify his building as well as showcase the water fountain work he can install in his customers’ pools!” Samess added.
Recipients of the 2011 Business-By-Business Beautification grants are:
- Dolphin Research Center
- Marathon Elks Lodge
- Fish Tales Market & Eatery
- Swimming Pools, Etc.
- Fred’s Beds
- Abyss Dive Center
- Castaway Restaurant
- SALT Services
- Bishop, Rosasco & Co.
- Tilden’s Scuba Center