Mission Accomplished: SBI to celebrate 11 years of keeping the island beautiful
After 11 long years of dedication to the “beautification” of Sanibel Island, the hard working Sanibel Beautification volunteers are retiring their orange vests and putting away their tools.
“We feel we have accomplished our original goal of improving the appearance of the entrance to the island, and the work we have done has created a legacy of lasting natural beauty which will only grow and improve in the coming years,” said Sanibel Beautification president Ada Shissler.
SBI is planning an appreciation celebration from 5 to 7 p.m. Oct. 25 at the Sanibel Community House, sponsored by the Sanibel Captiva Trust Company. This event is SBI’s way of saying, ‘Thank you” to the many volunteers, donors, supportive businesses, professionals and organizations throughout the 11 years, enabling it to accomplish its goals.
It all started in the spring of 2000 when residents of Shell Harbor complained to their association that the Lindgren Boulevard medians were unsightly. Scraggly, unkempt vegetation, combined with litter and debris created an unattractive impression of the area. Coincidentally, the Association of Realtors was looking for a public relations project.
After receiving a positive response from the city manager, public works director and director of natural resources a group of enthusiastic volunteers met for the first time on May 30 at the Sanibel Public Library to discuss the improvement of Lindgren Boulevard. At that very first meeting the group decided they wanted to for a new organization dedicated to the ongoing beautification of the island.
They voted to incorporate as Sanibel Beautification, Inc., and in the following few months they incorporated, filed for 5013C tax exempt status, created a logo, developed a web site, obtained a phone line and post office box, developed a membership program and brochure, a Power Point presentation, presented programs to island organizations, participated in the city’s Shared Vision program, worked with the city to develop a procedure for approval of plantings.
“Sanibel Beautification has been an extraordinary cooperative effort between the City of Sanibel and the community,” said Shissler. “The enthusiastic support of the community in terms of financial contributions, professional services provided, volunteer labor donated and the willingness of individuals to give of their time, talents, energy, has all been most gratifying.”
When the organization was completed, the group began looking for an interim project, as the city has scheduled Lindgren for sewer work in early 2002. At that point, Blauvelt joined the organization and volunteered the services of his landscape designer Welles Jones to design a landscape plan for the four corners of the causeway intersection. Blauvelt also generously provided use of his equipment and the purchase of plants and landscape material at cost.
With funds raised from memberships, island-wide mailings and fundraisers, support from the island businesses and organizations and volunteer labor from dozens of individuals, Sanibel Beautification was able to complete the landscaping of both the causeway intersection and the Lindgren medians by the end of 2003.
“Forty to fifty people would show up to plant a big area at one time,” recalled Shissler.
The group also partnered with the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) in the replacement of the flagpole at the Sanibel Causeway and Periwinkle intersection, and created a memorial space for Periwinkle Pavers at the foot of the flagpole. Sanibel Beautification has provided Christmas lighting there for the past decade.
The wholehearted support of the entire community has made it possible to accomplish so much more than was originally envisioned by SBI. By partnering with the City of Sanibel, the Chamber of Commerce and Sanibel Captiva Conservation Foundation to form the Periwinkle Partnership following Hurricane Charlie, vegetation was restored along Periwinkle as well as added features which greatly increased the comfort, safety and pleasure of all who visit the island.
Pocket parks now provide rest areas with benches donated by the Lion’s Club and bike racks. Picnic areas have been created at Roadside Park and at Palm Ridge and Periwinkle, where native plant botanical has been developed with 29 species of native plants, trees, shrubs and grasses identified. Six three-tier drinking fountains have been installed in convenient locations.
In addition, the Periwinkle Partnership provided professional planning, larger canopy forming trees, understory planting, sodding of bare spots and filling in of barren areas. The most recent project for Sanibel Beautification was the landscaping of the Chamber of Commerce parking lot, a critical area since it is the first place most visitors see, and a favorable first impression is important.
SBI is currently working with the Sanibel Bicycle Club as they develop an orientation center along Periwinkle Way, and $10,000 has been committed to providing plant materials for this project.
Throughout the years, SBI has been recognized at the city, county, state and national levels, but the greatest reward is the satisfaction the group feels at watching their efforts continue to grow and become more beautiful with time. Canopy is starting to reform over Periwinkle and this time it is native trees, which should better withstand future storms.
“Keep an eye on it,” said Shissler.
In the 11 years since it was formed in May 2000, Sanibel Beautification has accomplished the following:
Completed and maintained the landscaping of the causeway intersection and the Lindgren Boulevard medians.
Redesigned the island entrance, partnering with the VFW to replace the flag pole there.
Established a memorial area for Periwinkle Pavers and provided Christmas lighting for the past 10 years.
Partnered with the City of Sanibel, Chamber of Commerce and SCCF in the restoration of native vegetation along Periwinkle Way following Hurricane Charley.
Established nine garden areas with benches, bike racks, two picnic areas, one Native Plant Botanical Garden with 29 native plant species.
Through the Periwinkle Partnership, provided for professional design services, additional larger canopy forming trees and the installation of six three-tier drinking fountains.
Provided understory planting, filling of bare spots and followed up with re-planting where necessary, replacing 27 cold, damaged trees.
Landscaped the Chamber of Commerce parking lot
Cooperated with more than 30 island businesses, six financial institutions, 12 clubs and organizations, six different landscape companies and hundreds of volunteers.
Contributed close to $2 million in benefit to the city in public contributions, grants, volunteer labor and professional services rendered.
Received recognition at the local, county, state and national levels
Pledged $10,000 for the purchase of native plant material for the proposed bicycle club orientation center at the Meunch property.
Pledged support to the SCCF Bailey Homestead project.
“The most rewarding aspect of Sanibel Beautification is simply watching the results of its labor grow and flourish, making the island more beautiful with each year,” said Shissler. “Sanibel Beautification feels it has made a significant contribution to the goal of leaving a legacy of lasting natural beauty on Sanibel, and thanks to all who have helped achieve that goal.”
Shissler, who has been a volunteer throughout her lifetime, said she feels proud and privileged to live on Sanibel Island.