FLOWER PLANTERS LIKE these could be in bloom by late spring in New Bethlehem’s business district if donations can be secured in time.

NEW BETHLEHEM – The fundraising phase for New Bethlehem’s Downtown Planter Project has begun, and Mayor Tim Murray said that if the money can be raised soon, the decorative flower planters could be blooming in Newbie by late spring.

Murray said the effort is a community project, partnering the borough with the Redbank Valley Chamber of Commerce, Redbank Valley High School and downtown businesses.

“We are looking at installing 10 planters in the downtown business district this year to reinvigorate our main street and it’s appearance,” Murray said. “Green space has been documented to slow traffic and increase pedestrian traffic by as much as 12 percent, so I feel that this could be a great asset for our downtown businesses. I have been working on this project for over a year now and hope to be able to implement it by the growing season this year.”

To help pay for the planters, Murray said a benefit auction will be held at the chamber of commerce’s annual dinner of March 24 at the Hawthorn Fire Hall. Donations of auction items are now being collected. For those wishing to donate auction items, contact Murray at (814) 275-3669 before March 17. Items can be dropped off at the chamber office in the Jewelry Shop, or arrangements can be made to pick up the items.

The project will also involve local students, especially those in Redbank’s horticultural classes.

“I look forward to working with [teacher] Kate Gruver and the school horticultural students in deciding the proper soils, fertilizers and plants that will do the best in the environments we will be placing them in,” Murray said. “We also would like to involve the students in the design of the plantings. I also look forward to working with local nurseries for information and supplies for the project.”

The planters are designed to hold water and would only require watering every two weeks if precipitation necessitated it.

“We will be looking at low maintenance plantings that offer the best appearance and can help beautify our downtown,” Murray explained.

A total of $5,000 to $6,000 is needed for the complete project.

The Redbank Watershed Association has earmarked $2,600 to go toward the planters, Murray said, because the planters will help divert runoff as rainwater will be absorbed by the planters.

In addition to the upcoming auction, Murray said that businesses can “adopt” planters to have one located near their storefront. To do so, contact Murray at the above number.

“We will try and honor those on a first-come, first-served basis as we will only be placing 10 of these and they will need to be spaced appropriately,” he said.

Planters can also be sponsored by local residents, or in memory of a loved one. A plaque will be placed on any sponsored or memorial planters.

“We look forward to get this up and blooming by late spring of this year and hope this project will be shared by the community both in it’s support, volunteerism and appreciation of the beauty that this will offer our community,” Murray said.

He also noted that Subway in New Bethlehem will hold a benefit day on March 30 to help the cause. On that day, $1 from the purchase of every footlong sandwich and 50 cents for every six-inch sub will be donated toward the project.

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