For Edgartown beautification committee, it’s a labor of love

The hard work of these residents includes the sign that welcomes visitors, as well as the town’s flowers, lampposts, and benches.

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The beautification committee poses in one of their projects, Edgartown's Mini Park: From left, Geri Smith, Doris Ward, Renee Clermont, and Cammie Naylor, and Gerret Conover, back. Photo by Sam Moore

The Edgartown beautification committee has left its mark all over town.

When spring first announces its arrival, visitors and residents drive into the convergence at the Edgartown Triangle, and they’re welcomed to the community by a beautifully landscaped flower garden and a tasteful sign that says just that. And those quaint lampposts all over town? You can thank the committee for those as well. The renovation of the Whale Tail Memorial Park at Memorial Wharf is another project, as well as the revitalized Mini Park on Main Street.

The beautification committee is made up of seven members with a common denominator: their love of Edgartown. Gerret Conover has been on the committee for more than 20 years, and serves as treasurer. Other members are longstanding, and some are relatively new at volunteering. Carol Fligor is chairman, and past chairman Anne Vose, Geri Smith, Cammie Naylor, Renee Clermont, and Doris Ward round out the committee.

Mr. Conover explained that the beautification committee accepts private donations, which enables it to move projects forward without placing a heavy burden on the town’s budget. The committee works with the cooperation of the selectmen and the highway department, and oftentimes the town’s conservation committee.

“There are areas that need a shot in the arm and steady improvements, and they are not necessarily in the town’s budget,” Mr. Conover said.

The group meets once a month year-round, with no time off for the summer season. There’s no jockeying for position or pushing forward private agendas on this committee. Members have vast experience with landscape design, real estate sales, education, and other areas that lend themselves to the work of the committee.

Cammie Naylor’s pride and joy is the Mini Park, which now features a raised garden that echoes the round shape of the original millstone that faces Main Street.

“We kept the basic bones that were there,” she said. “We redefined the walkways, kept the old trees and put new plantings in to refresh it. The highlight is a substantially sized cobblestone raised planter where we can put in a garden according to the season. That really gave it a punch.”

Two generous donors funded the renovations at the Mini Park, Ms. Naylor said, and the ongoing plan is to keep up the maintenance, and add more seating and more lampposts — which can be purchased as memorials, Mr. Conover was quick to add.

Each committee member brings something to the group. Renee Clermont has years of landscape experience, and she’s taken on updating the group’s website.

“I’ve been in town for over 30 years, and I’m vested in the appearance of downtown and the whole town,” Ms. Clermont said.

Geri Smith is a newcomer to the group, and said she thought the committee was a good way for her to lend support to the town. “And Carol Fligor was super-inviting when I reached out to her,” Ms. Smith said.

Doris Ward said she stumbled into the committee via her deep love of Edgartown and the Island.

“I adore Edgartown. There isn’t anyplace else I’d want to live in the whole world,” Ms. Ward said. “And I have to say that I’ve been on many committees, and I’ve never seen one as compatible as this one.”

These days Ms. Ward has a pet project that falls under the beautification committee’s umbrella. She’s on a quest to honor the old Edgartown School, where she taught English for many years, by installing a large compass rose in front of the new library, located at the site of the old school. Bricks from the old building will be incorporated in the design, and the compass will be directly in front of the library. “You’ll walk over the old to enter the new,” she said.

Ms. Ward’s goal is $10,000 to complete the project. “We’ve got $5,295,” she said. “It’s slow coming, but I tell you, it comes from the heart.”

The timeline for some of these projects is looming in the not-so-distant future. Mr. Conover said that installation of 11 new benches with plaques and six new lampposts and plaques is planned for this spring at the Mini Park. Benches are $2,500 each, and the lampposts are $7,500. Memorial bricks to spruce up the Whale Tail Memorial Park are $200 each, with a deadline for ordering set at March 1. He hopes that by Memorial Day, the projects will be updated just in time for another beautiful Edgartown summer.

All those hanging flower baskets, appropriately placed trash receptacles, colorful planters, brick pathways, and countless other efforts that make Edgartown shine are actually carefully considered and executed by the beautification committee. If you’d like to help them keep up the good work, or want to purchase a specific design element, visit the town’s website and find the committee when you click on the menu of departments. If you’d like to make a donation for the Edgartown School memorial, send a check payable to the Town of Edgartown to P.O. Box 5180, Edgartown MA 02539, and note that it’s for the memorial. More info at edgartown-ma.us.