By Miriam Longobardi
As you drive through the hamlet of Armonk you may not realize all the work that goes into the little touches that beautify the area. The wreaths during the holidays, the flags flying proudly from Memorial Day through Labor Day, and countless other seasonal and permanent displays one sees are just some of what the Armonk Beautification Committee makes happen each year.
The Committee, which is comprised of members appointed by the North Castle Town Board, serves Armonk, Banksville and North White Plains. The Armonk Beautification Committee is chaired by Carol Bidjarano and, since North Castle is so spread out, a sub-committee was formed for the other two hamlets. The committees all work together generating ideas for projects in their respective areas to maintain the beauty and appearance of open spaces as well as along streets.
Some projects, such as holiday wreaths and the hanging baskets in the spring, are done annually, with all projects funded by the budget allocated by the Town Board. Larger, more expensive endeavors need to be phased in over a few years to be more cost-efficient, such as replacing street signs as well as the lovely “Welcome to the Hamlet of…” signs welcoming people into each area. The amount of money for new projects is impacted by the costs of the things done annually that must be maintained. Still other projects are just beyond the scope of what the Committee can handle and are beyond their control.
Decisions about what projects to focus on are voted upon by the main committee at their monthly meetings, depending on which area is involved. “Majority rules,” Bidjarano reports. “We always keep an odd number on the Committee to avoid a tie.”
The flags hung for Memorial Day were all recently replaced and are another example of a larger venture. Smaller touches include flowers planted in the grassy triangles at various intersections or other green spaces.
Open spaces, or lack thereof, can sometimes present more of a problem than stretching the budget. “North White Plains is really challenged by a lack of open spaces to beautify,” Bidjarano said. There is also little room for people or organizations, such as scouts or students seeking community service, to volunteer as all work is done by the town.
Weather is another challenge that can impact potential projects. Last year, due to the extremely long winter and late spring, plans for planting flowers in front of St. Mary’s were put on hold. By the time the snow melted and the ground thawed, the town employees were scrambling to ready the ball fields, parks and pool and the flower-planting was forced to be put on hold. The funds had been approved and allocated but they were unable to use them, but they hope to complete that work this year.
Despite occasional challenges, Bidjarano says that all the women who serve on the committees are proud of what they accomplish each year. “We enjoy the work and make a difference,” she said. “It’s a win-win.”
Miriam is a single mother of two girls living in Westchester. A breast cancer survivor, she volunteers for the American Cancer Society and teaches fourth grade. Follow her on Twitter @writermimilong.