How would you grade Sanford’s beautification?

I wasn’t here at the time, but I’m told “beautification” was the buzz word during the most recent mayoral election, and it was mentioned (but not at the forefront) during the most recent city council election back in November.
Currently, we have a poll at sanfordherald.com that asks readers to grade Sanford’s beautification.
My grade right now: C
I think our city has a lot going for it … the recent effort to beautify Horner Boulevard (which needs it) from U.S. 1 to the Washington Ave. railroad bridge; the soon-to-be started Endor Iron Furnace greenway, which will begin in Sanford and wind through much of Lee County; and I think the work being done on and around the new bypass has been done with greenery and aesthetics in mind.
Sanford’s west side, which is considered its “rich side,” and that’s no secret has its moments. Several neighborhoods in the area are a joy just to drive through, but visitors to Sanford rarely get to see this side.
My “C” grade comes because of some of the plight we’re seeing downtown (don’t get me wrong, great efforts are being made in some areas, but there are still too many empty buildings, unkept streets and more for the grade to be any higher). My “C” grade comes because of the way many businesses along Horner Boulevard have completely let their store fronts go. My “C” grade comes because of the plight you see in portions of the eastern side of Sanford, where nice well-kept homes are mixed with rundown homes and empty boarded-up lots.

I’m interested in hearing your thoughts — the good and the bad of Sanford’s beautification efforts. Out of 138 voters so far, 38 percent have given the city a C, 20 percent a B, 18 percent a D and 17 percent an F. Only 6 percent have given the city an A.

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5 thoughts on “How would you grade Sanford’s beautification?

  1. The good:
    – Painted bench project downtown, Depot park,

    The bad:
    – Hawkins Ave (especially from Burns Ave to downtown)

  2. I concur with everything you’ve said.

    We too are recent transplants to Sanford, and think it is has a lot going for it, and has loads of potential.

    But to reach that potential, we have to actually execute. And I think many citizens and the city are doing so. But we could do more.

    When we were shopping for a new place to live, we considered a number of other small communities, but we picked Sanford because we recognized that even though it had its challenges, there seemed to be a genuine interest and notable efforts to invest and improve the community. We still see that.

    And with Sanford’s unique geographic position relative to the other large metro areas in central NC, I think we are poised for tremendous benefit if we play our cards right.

    In fact, it really is an interesting time, and I was just talking about this with a newly minted downtown business property owner.

    Sanford is going through something of a renaissance in my opinion. Many properties, and I do mean many, that have been in the hands of the same landlords for decades are now being sold and bought by new entrepreneurs that have a mind to reinvigorate the properties and businesses, specifically downtown.

    We are also seeing a accelerated interest in the historic parts of town, and although there is much to yet be done, it seems that every day brings a little bit more good news that someone is looking into a project, property, or general effort to reinvest and gentrify. I think that over time, and maybe not so long a time, we’ll have these efforts build on one another and see our downtown realize the potential it has to be a boutique and niche oriented vibrant business community.

    With regard to East Sanford, the city has applied for grants for at least the last two years to survey that area in an effort to have it registered as a National Historic District. So far those grants have been denied, but the city continues to try. I believe it eventually will be successful, and that will hopefully spur investment. Other good news is that Hal Hegwer expressed the importance of funding efforts such as historic district signage for the coming budget as “quality of life”. This is the second year we’ve requested these signs, and if they pass this time, it shows a commitment by the city to invest in the assets that define Sanford and make it unique.

    In fact, grass roots efforts like the “Second Century Project” come to mind(www.secondcentury.org) also highlight citizen interest in marketing and branding Sanford to attract even more investment.

    And the efforts for the Horner(I still like Endor better, can we go back? 🙂 ) corridor and greenway are going to be great projects that will really benefit those coming into and through town.

    But of course Sanford has a long way to go in the areas you cite, and in others such as our woefully inadequate neighborhood parks(or dearth of), above ground utilities, general appearance(entrance signs, groundskeeping, etc).

    With all that being said, I too gave Sanford a “C”, but I think it is a high “C”. Sanford recognized its potential for downtown decay and atrophy in the late 1970s when many other small cities ignored the problem, and even with some of the problems we’ve got, that recognition is why we have as nice a downtown area that we have as compared with many other similarly sized communities. Take it from me, coming from Monroe, LA… we could just have an entirely vacant downtown, mostly filled with empty lots.

    I have confidence that Sanford is on a distinct uptick, and look forward to what the next few years will bring. With so many citizens interested in directly affecting change, we can only benefit.

    I am proud of our adopted home, but know we can do even better, and look forward to being part of that solution.

    Al

  3. Oh I should also mention that Sanford just received a tree survey grant for the Rosemount McIver Park Historic District. This survey is the first step in Sanford becoming a certified “Tree City”(or something like that, pardon me if not completely accurate) which will then lead to programs such as urban forestry renewal and urban planting programs.

    This will no doubt also help improve our city scape.

    Al

  4. My apologies… one more comment 🙂

    I read in today’s paper about the proposed City of Sanford ‘monumental’ brick sign to be placed at the Hwy1/421 interchange, and I think it is an excellent and exciting. I can’t wait to see it installed.

    However, we also have two large, although not quite as monumental, brick City of Sanford signs on Hwy 1(South) and on Hwy 421(North Horner) right after exiting Hwy 1.

    I would like to suggest that along with a project to build this new sign Hwy 1, we ask the city to improve the appearance of the two existing signs.

    The sign on Horner is partially blocked by an unattractive chain link fence, and is ‘framed’ by the beautiful Progress sub-station(insert sarcasm warning 🙂 ) and sparsely populated civic organization signs.

    I think it would be ideal to remove the chain link fence, that seems to serve no purpose, do some planting and landscaping around the front of the sign, and plant some large trees or other plants that would obscure the power station from view to some degree. Also, while I’m not against the traditional assortment of civic organizations one often sees posted at the entrance to small town USA, if the signs are really few/sparse, or poorly maintained, they give an impression of decay, not vitality. So let’s clean them up or remove them.

    Similarly the sign on Hwy 1 which states ‘Brick capital of the USA’ proudly, should have the surrounding vegetation cleared away, and nice landscaping and lighting installed. As it stands now, it looks almost abandoned, and that does more harm for the image of Sanford than good.

    Both signs could probably also stand to have their font/style of script and logos updated as well to something more fresh and vibrant.

    And finally, we could just use some more landscaping and planting in open areas. I drive up to Raleigh every day for work, and the city and DOT have planted large swathes of wildflowers in open areas, canna lillies, and other flowering plants such as crepe myrtles. This makes a huge difference in appeal and morale. In fact, it is so nice, I have seen motorists stop and take photos of their families out in the flowers. True, this may be unsafe on a motorway, but it illustrates the positive power these small efforts have.

    Al

  5. I give Sanford a C-
    I wish horner blvd. could be blown up and started over again, nothing on the road makes sense. There is no continuity to it which stinks because it could have been a great asset to Sanford. No easy way to fix it, but owners should take pride in there business and at least cut the grass and keep the trash up.

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