Flags are waving and petals fluttering along Main Street in Manchester this spring, the result of the efforts of a diverse group of residents and town officials to beautify the town center.
Gino DePalmer, owner of Gino’s Barbershop, got things started in early May, when he hired a landscaper to plant flowers in the planter spaces in front of the BB&T Bank at 3200 Main St., spending $286 of his own money.
“I planted four knock off roses and a few things I can’t pronounce,” he said. “I always wanted to decorate the town because outside of Manchester, all the developments are all beautiful lawns and flowers growing. Then the oldest part of Manchester, Main Street, you come down and ... A lot of places are really run-down, you know? So I thought planting flowers might beautify it.”
Manchester Councilwoman Tammy Black has also gotten involved, her family committing to planting flowers and mulching the 10 planters around the big maple tree where High Street intersects Main.
“We have been keeping up with the planters on our property and then this year, we thought it would be a great goal for our family to do as many planters as possible on Main Street,” she said. “Our goal is to hopefully do the remaining eight planters and get it done before July 4th.”
The Town of Manchester also pitched in, paying to install American flags on all the black lampposts along Main Street prior to Memorial Day, according to Town Administrator Steve Miller. The flags will stay up through July 4 and the plan is to keep one design or another flying all year round.
“We will switch it up a little bit and change to something else in the fall and then with the seasons,” Miller said. “It will add something to Main Street and we’re hoping it’s catching on ... after we put the flags up, I saw that a lot of other people put flags up on their houses.”
The idea that Main Street could be made more colorful and welcoming to both residents and visitors has been around for years. According to DePalmer, it was an idea he first brought up at meetings between Manchester business owners more than 15 years ago, and more recently, it was a topic of conversation at the meetings of the Manchester Area Merchants Association.
According to Black, it was the discussions at recent meetings that motivated her to act and while the beautification efforts have largely been small initiatives by individuals, there is the possibility of creating a more formal plan.
“Although it’s been a largely non-collaborated effort, it would be great to get something into our community plan. Maybe the town and [the Manchester Area Merchants Association] can collaborate,” Black said. “It would be great to put something specific into a plan that addresses how to beautify the street and then also how it would be maintained.”
In fact, Pete Garey, a member of the Manchester Area Merchants Association, said he is currently drafting just such a plan.
“I have been harping at the meetings that we should be putting together a plan and looking for some grant money,” Garey said. “I have a rough draft of a plan that I will be showing [the Manchester Area Merchants Association] at this month’s meeting [on June 19] to see what they think of that and then present it to the town.”
Garey said he hopes to not only find support and funds for more flowers, but to inspire landlords to improve their properties and possibly convince the town to invest in more lampposts, the better to display more flags.
In the meantime, while the town and local merchants discuss a formal plan, DePalmer said he will continue to do whatever he can to add some color to Main Street Manchester and said his next step will be to add portable flower planters in front of his barbershop.
“I’m going do a little at a time, even if I have to spend my own money,” DePalmer said. “It makes the whole Main Street more beautiful.”