The first phase will address both sides of U.S. 98 from 3rd through 4th street. [ Leelee Doughty | Contributed ]
| |

Beautification of 98 through St. Joe to begin

Thanks to more than $220,000 in state beautification grants, work is set to begin on landscaping to further enhance portions of the city of Port St. Joe’s downtown that fronts U.S. 98.

Working with an earlier grant from the Florida Department of Transportation for $90,000, and a second one for about $130,000, plus financial and in-kind services from the city of Port St. Joe, the initial phases of construction will begin in the next few months on an overall plan to beautify the intersections from 1st through 5th streets.

The first phase will address both sides of U.S. 98 from 3rd through 4th street. The city hopes to begin construction on the second phase, from 1st to 2nd streets later in the year, also on both sides.

The city awarded the first construction contract to Port St. Joe’s Coastal Design and Landscape.

“It’s really, really exciting,” said Leelee Doughty, who detailed the city’s successful grant application. “Slowly, surely, we’re building things up.”

She said there is no question that the downtown has made important strides in recovering from the destruction left by Hurricane Michael in 2018, with stores and restaurants rebuilt, and Reid Avenue reviving,

But the landscape along the highway has not yet been restored, and that’s the goal of this project.

“The highway is one of our gateways to visitors and residents driving by our town.  As with most city beautification programs, the result is improved economic development for the downtown districts, and in many cases, significant development.  It draws them in to visit our downtown, come in and shop at our stores and eat in our restaurants, instead of driving by,” said Doughty. “Beauty begets beauty and the city embraced it.”

The second phase, on both sides from 1st to 2nd streets will be completed later in the year.
[ Leelee Doughty | Contributed ]

Going beyond earlier planter additions provided by the Port St. Joe Garden Club, plans call for plants and trees of both phases to be scaled to fit into the current spaces to provide visual continuity along the Highway. 

Additional plant material and large planters will be added to enhance and complete the landscape design, using materials that will thrive in their locations and survive the heat once they are established. Where needed, electrical boxes that power the irrigation will be replaced. New irrigation and new soil and amendments will be installed.

Doughty said the work includes digging up sunken marshland, and rectifying the soil by putting in nutrients and fertilizer.

She said she was pleased that when she sought letters of support from area businesses, restaurateurs and residents, she received 17 of them, each one original. “The letters of support are one of the main reasons they pick people,” Doughty said.

Among the vegetation planned for the beautification phases are 25 20-foot sabal palms, saw palmetto, crape myrtle, coontie, spider lily, carpet rose, muhly grass, Mexican sage and dwarf oleander.

Meet the Editor

David Adlerstein, The Apalachicola Times’ digital editor, started with the news outlet in January 2002 as a reporter.

Prior to then, David Adlerstein began as a newspaperman with a small Boston weekly, after graduating magna cum laude from Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts. He later edited the weekly Bellville Times, and as business reporter for the daily Marion Star, both not far from his hometown of Columbus, Ohio.

In 1995, he moved to South Florida, and worked as a business reporter and editor of Medical Business newspaper. In Jan. 2002, he began with the Apalachicola Times, first as reporter and later as editor, and in Oct. 2020, also began editing the Port St. Joe Star.

Wendy Weitzel The Star Digital Editor

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.