GLOVERSVILLE - Some members of the community have taken it upon themselves to spruce up downtown.
City resident Larry Holmes has been spending his time over the last three months cleaning the cracks of sidewalks along Main Street.
While weeding the cracks seems like a small deed, the task actually is time consuming, Holmes said.
Gloversville resident Larry Holmes weeds the cracks of the sidewalks along South Main Street.
(The Leader-Herald/Levi Pascher)
Holmes, 59, said he usually spends about six hours each day - weather permitting - on the task, and has begun to extend his effort to the streets that connect to Main Street.
"It started with me just wanting to make the streets look a little better around where I live, and then, once I got going, I just wanted to continue," Holmes said. "I started working from one street to the next and I am trying to get to what I can in each direction."
Holmes said he never started the effort with the intention of attracting attention or payment, but to make the community better and inspire others to join in the effort.
He said many people have praised him and even offered payment, but he has declined any money.
"I just tell them I am doing this for you, and the whole experience and seeing the people I meet smile is rewarding enough," Holmes said. "I can't take their money. I am doing this for everyone, not just myself."
Holmes said he hopes people will join him in his effort because the city is too big for him to tackle alone.
"We need a bunch of us to come out and do this stuff," Holmes said. "If I turn out to be the only one, though, that won't prevent me from trying to take it as far as I can.
"What I really want is people to just think of me, the guy cleaning the sidewalks, the next time they see garbage, and just pick it up," Holmes said.
Holmes isn't alone in his effort to beautify downtown. Another resident, Hortense "Tweety" Dingman, has been spending the last five years cleaning and planting flowers around the city.
The 71-year-old Gloversville native said she started her effort to stay healthy by remaining active and to keep her mind off the stresses in life.
She said her primary focus has been around the Main and Fulton street intersection, including the green space between the Abdella Law Office and the former Matty the Jeweler business. She created a small garden there. Dingman also said she has been trying to improve the area around the Elk Street Park on East Fulton Street.
Often, she can be seen shoveling leaves off Main Street in the fall or sweeping a sidewalk in the summer. She said her goal is to make the city look nicer.
She has tried to accomplish this by buying flowers for her landscaping on Main Street or picking up garbage she finds lying around the city.
The garden she maintains on Main Street isn't easy work. She said she has to bring multiple gallons of water from her home to keep the plants alive and has bought grass seed to try to make the space look more attractive.
"People will like it here more if they have something pretty to look at," Dingman said. "I hope other people are doing what they can, too, because there is a lot that needs to be done."
City officials say an appealing city helps attract new residents and businesses.
"A lot of times, you don't need a title to be a leader," Mayor Dayton King said. "I think it is a fine example some of these people are setting for their peers and the next generation. If it is just left to the government officials or department employees, we are never going to be able to get to it all."
The mayor also started a group to address beautification. The group includes his wife and several residents of the city.
Belle Bruse, of 34 North St., was randomly selected out of 15 people who entered their homes for improvements by Gloversville Curb Appeal Project volunteers.
Mayor King and his wife, Chanda, Steve and Kelly Lawrence, Rob and Kelly Curtis, and project manager Sean Dooling of S.J. Dooling Building and Remodeling headed the the group's effort to improve Bruse's house and, in the future, others.
Dooling assessed the winning house to determine its needs and used a budget of $500 for the project.
A retired city official has been doing his part to help improve the city as well.
In June, retired City Court Judge Vincent DeSantis received the council's approval to expand the community garden on Fremont Street through the Gloversville Housing and Neighborhood Improvement Corp.
The garden is on the west side of Fremont Street and south of the intersection of Fremont and Forest streets.
DeSantis said the garden - which had its fourth growing season this summer - has become more successful as more families in the area have gotten involved.
He said this was the group's first major effort.
The city's Business Improvement District works to improve downtown as well.
The Board of Directors for the BID oversees assessments levied on downtown property owners. The revenues are intended to pay for improvements within the district not otherwise provided for by the city.
Some of the improvements include sanitation, sidewalk snow removal, security services, landscaping, tree and flower planting and maintenance, planters, trash receptacles, store and parking signs and seasonal decorations, as well as such services as promotions, marketing and education.
BID President Karen Smith said the BID will decorate the downtown with fall and Christmas decorations this year.