NEWPORT — A self-organized group led by the city of Newport’s landscape specialist, Anita Albrecht, spent a third day beautifying the grounds of the library on Monday, pulling weeds and mulching. They’d previously cleaned up Literacy Park and were ready to take on the very visible and overgrown planting beds at the corner at Olive and Nye streets.
Starting with the Nye Beach turnaround on Labor Day, a group of about a dozen volunteers have worked together to improve city-owned properties. Working to spruce up Mombetsu Sister City Park at 620 SW Neff Way, the volunteers used paint sent from Japan. A park with a traditional Japanese garden, bridge and an arch, Newport City Councilor Cynthia Jacobi called it a hidden gem.
Jacobi shouted out fellow Councilor Dietmar Goebel’s weed-whacker and leaf blower, also indicating that Newport Mayor Dean Sawyer has joined the work crew.
“City employees have been furloughed one day a week. Some were in quarantine. Things couldn’t get done,” Jacobi said. “The city couldn’t do it —they didn’t have the people or the time. We’re just stepping up and trying to make a difference.”
Along with Goebel and Jacobi, Cathey Briggs, Tom Briggs, Rebecca Rozewski, Janet Webster and Martha Winsor worked Monday at the library. “I could not ask for better workers,” Albrecht said.
Albrecht’s position as landscaper came about, she explained, as a result of the efforts of Newport’s Beautification Committee. Albrecht works with different groups and departments with the goal of beautifying both the natural and man-made landscapes around town, she said.
Monday’s group, Albrecht elaborated, came together after a few instrumental people volunteered to help finish planting and mulching at the Newport Performing Arts Center. “With Cynthia Jacobi’s enthusiasm, we organized ourselves as a regular group, meeting the second Monday and fourth Thursday of the month,” she said.
Rozewski was hard at work on Monday. “I retired from the library a couple of years ago, and one of the things I used to think about before I retired was being able to come out and do this,” she told the News-Times. “At the time I couldn’t. We weren’t allowed to volunteer, and they wouldn’t pay a manager to do it. Actually, after months and months and months of hibernation, I know all these women, and it’s great fun to visit with them while we’re working,” she added.
Albrecht explained, “We are trying to do a beautification at places in the city, parks and areas of high visibility that the public will notice the efforts. We’re taking out invasive things, improving the esthetics and taking care of some maintenance that has been neglected. We have a group of volunteers that are city residents who have taken it upon themselves to help, which is amazing and should be commended.”
Jacobi pointed out that last year it was proposed to cut Albrect’s job to eight hours a month. The Newport City Council, however, voted to keep the position at half time. Jacobi also said she hopes community groups will come forward to help, perhaps taking responsibility for a specific area or section of a garden. Perhaps the library foundation board could come and take care of this section, she said hopefully, of the corner and the row of rhododendrons that need maintenance.
Those interested in participating in the effort to beautify the city can contact Albrecht at [email protected] Volunteers will need to fill out an application with basic contact information.