The old Main Street sure looks different with all those old buildings gone! It's obvious that Gays Mills will never be the same again. The landmarks that we have all have thought of as the essence of the area have been replaced with wide open spaces with an occasional tree, bush or a sad remnant of a flower bed here and there. Many people are just sick at heart that we now have such an eye sore as our public image.
A small group of public minded people have been expecting this situation for years and have been thinking about what should be done when that condition arrives. That time has come and the Friends of Gays Mills is excited about the prospect of starting to beautify the old down town area before the fall Apple Festival. We know that that project will require a lot of work and there is little time.
We realize that the village board is looking at the new land for expansion of the Apple Festival. They are planning to sell sales booth sites behind the sidewalks on all of the newly available land on Main street. There also will be parking spaces for the venders behind their booths. This will greatly curtail our dreams of tree lined boulevards with beautiful plantings, statues, water features, gazebos etc in those prime spots with public access from the Main Street.
We don't want to stop their plans for making the festival a more successful venture for the village. Since the festival is only on 2 days of the year, we are hoping that we can still negotiate a master plan that will accommodate the booths and parking between plantings of gardens, trees and other things that we will want to have for future enjoyment of the people of Gays Mills.
When we first started efforts to beautify the changing look of our beloved village, the newly opened land wasn't available yet. At that time we had a large donation of top notch plant material available with no place to put them. When Julie Henley suggested the log cabin village as a possibility, I hesitated a bit because I was still wanting to improve the more visible old town historic areas.
After about a week of contemplation, I was convinced that the site had great potential for both shade and sunny planting, a free water feature, established park status with a historic attraction and a cooperative open minded attitude. The rest is history.
With the encouragement of Kay Smiley and her many friends and organizational abilities, we found help and resources that helped us plant and maintain the the many plants and further donations from other gardening friends. In spite of the record breaking drought and with the hundreds of hours of dedicated watering (done mostly by Kay Smiley), we have lost very few of the plantings.
At this time, we have the permission of the village board to start planting the plants from the houses slated for demolition and other donated plants by the village shop building on Main Street. This is the place to start because the site is the only place with water available.
We are planning a volunteer work week end for September 8th and 9th. We are hoping we can find volunteer help to prepare the beds so that they are ready for the weekend. The plan is that people with plants to donate will bring them and help plant them into the prepared beds. If you have plants to donate but need help digging them or hauling them, call us and we will organize help.
We will plan to have a potluck picnic both days to make the event more festive. Please call me at 735 - 4347 or Kay Smiley at 735 – 4476 and tell us what you would like to donate to help beautify Main Street.
- Charlie Drake
The Friends of Gays Mills