Katie Leary Community Garden
Wells Fargo grant to help sustain Elmira community garden
The Elmira Wells Fargo Advisors office recently presented a $2,000 Investing in our Communities Grant to the Katy Leary Park Community Garden on Elmira’s Southside.
The grant will be used to add beds to the garden and to purchase seeds, plants, tools and materials, and to teach environmentally safe garden classes to the gardeners.
The community garden was built in June 2010 at the site of a former unused and deteriorating Elmira-owned tennis court in the park. The project is a partnership involving the City of Elmira, the Friends of the Chemung River Watershed and volunteers from The Park Church in Elmira. Jon Homuth of Elmira is the garden coordinator.
The garden is home to more than 50 raised beds, fruit trees and berry bushes. The beds are offered for free to the public to grow vegetables and fruit. Some of that produce is donated to the nearby Samaritan Center Food Pantry. The Cornell Cooperative Extension of Chemung County’s Master Gardener Program offers free gardening classes to the gardeners.
“We value and support the educational benefits of this program regarding health and nutrition, as well as the donation of fresh produce to local food pantries,” said Fred Weeman, senior vice president of investment and manager of the Wells Fargo Advisors’ Elmira branch office.
The grant is one of nearly 300 basic needs grants made throughout the United States by Wells Fargo Advisors as part of the firm’s Investing in our Communities initiative. In 2011, Wells Fargo contributed more than $219 million in grants and sponsorships to nonprofit organizations and volunteered 1.3 million team members’ hours across the nation.
“This is a great example of a local business doing its part to help sustain a valuable community project,” said Jim Pfiffer, executive director of the Friends of the Chemung River Watershed. “The garden teaches residents how to grow their own fruits and vegetables and provides fresh produce for a local food pantry.”
Anyone interested in reserving a garden bed at the Katy Leary Park Community Garden should contact Homuth at email@example.com or 607-734-5497.
Hilliard Corporation donates $5,000 to River Friends
The Friends of the Chemung River Watershed (River Friends) is better able to promote and protect our waterways thanks to a generous donation from the Hilliard Foundation in Elmira.
The foundation recently gave $5,000 to River Friends to help the nonprofit organization improve river access and build nature trails along the waterways in the Chemung River Basin.
The Hilliard Foundation is part of Hilliard Corp., an Elmira business that manufactures motion control and filtration products.
“We are grateful that businesses like the Hilliard Corporation realize the importance that our waterways and natural resources play in improving our local quality of life, economy and recreation,” said Jim Pfiffer, executive director of River Friends. “Healthy, accessible and well-used rivers make it easier for businesses and industry to attract and maintain quality employees.”
The Hilliard Foundation funds will be used to help build multi-use recreation trails along the river.
Share your views on improving and protecting our watersheds
The Southern Tier Central Regional Planning and Development Board is creating an action plan to promote the Chemung and Susquehanna rivers watershed and to weave the waterways into our future development and quality of life.
The plan will embrace a sustainable approach to economic and community development that respects the natural functions of watersheds and minimizes flood risk. Development of the plan began more than a year ago and input and feedback from residents in the watershed is sought.
You can learn more about the watersheds, the plan's goals and links to resources for achieving those goals on the project website: www.susquehanna-chemung.org
. Please visit the website to find draft portions of the plan and recommendations, including the “Outdoor Recreation” chapter and a new GIS Map viewer, where boat launches, fishing streams, pavilions and other outdoor recreation amenities are mapped.
To get involved, host a focus group on outdoor recreation or join the mailing list, email Chelsea Robertson at: firstname.lastname@example.org
2011 Volunteer Awards
Lynn Smith, 2011 Volunteer of the Year
, receives her award from River Friends Executive Director Jim Pfiffer.
Joseph King (center) and Joseph Quail, co-owners of The Express Café & Bakery in downtown Elmira, received their 2011 River Friend Business of the Year Award
from River Friends Executive Director Jim Pfiffer. (Missing from photo: co-owner Carlos Delos Reyes)
Source: Southern Tier Central Regional Planning & Development Board, www.stcplanning.org
Flooding is a fact of life in the Southern Tier Central region of New York. Flash floods may occur quickly with little or no warning. Since the devastating flood caused by Tropical Storm Agnes in June of 1972, various government agencies and other organizations have made efforts to improve flood warnings and reduce the damages caused by flooding. STC provides technical assistance for a variety of flood risk management activities.
After every flood, the tendency has been for residents to rebuild their lives and pray that "this is the last destructive one." Structural projects have been built in hopes of controlling future flood waters. As time passes, people tend to forget about flooding and become complacent. Additional development occurs in flood-prone areas. Deforestation and upland development increase the amount of runoff. Stream channels are allowed to become clogged with debris. In short, residents of the Southern Tier Central region continue to grossly underestimate the destructive powers of their rivers, streams, and lakes. If future flood damages are to be reduced, flood mitigation measures will need to be incorporated into programs that will outlive the all-too-short memories of area residents.
Things you can do to manage flood risks include:
Pay attention to flood warnings and obey evacuation orders.
Never drive through flooded roadways: Turn Around Don't Drown!
Do not dump or throw anything into ditches, streams or other waterways.
Maintain undeveloped vegetated buffers along rivers, streams, and lakeshores.
Protect flood control structures: Do not operate motor vehicles on an earthen levee or engage in other activities that might damage the vegetation.
Make sure that land use activities do not increase the amount of runoff and thus contribute to increased flood hazards.
If you live in a high flood risk area, take steps to protect your property from flood damage.
Purchase flood insurance for buildings and contents in order to protect your financial investment.
River Friends Seeks Volunteers
There are plenty of volunteer opportunites for individuals and groups with River Friends. If you enjoy the outdoors, respect the environment and want to improve your community, please contact us to get involved.
River Friends, a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting and promoting the Chemung River and its tributaries is looking for additional volunteer interns. For more information, contact Jim Pfiffer at (607) 846-2242 or e-mail at email@example.com.
Our river runs through it: How the Chemung River buoys downtown Elmira businesses By Ruth Harper
When he bought a building on Elmira’s West Water Street about a year and a half ago, Max Ahmad didn’t plan to open a restaurant. But he fell in love with what Water Street offers: views of the Chemung River.
“I used to stand there and look at the river,” he said. “Then I decided, why not open a restaurant downstairs? When I bought the building, I didn’t think of opening a restaurant.”
Ahmad opened Bistro 223 at 223 W. Water St. in August. He hopes the view from his restaurant helps Elmirans gain a new appreciation for the river.
“I thought, it’s such a river that no one pays attention to,” Ahmad said. “People don’t know there’s a river there. People don’t care about the river. The river, bad, bad, bad. (In 1972) we had a flood. Bad, bad, bad. And I always used to look at the river and say, ‘You know, you’re such a pretty little river and you’re so neglected.’”
As he worked on the restaurant, he faced a problem: A huge flood wall blocked the first-floor restaurants’ view of the water. He decided to place a mirror so guests could watch the water while enjoying a meal.
Roundin’ Third, a sports bar and restaurant at 255 W. Water St., has also capitalized on the river’s beauty by offering the public a view from its second-story deck, said owner Dain Reese. The deck brings in return business more than new business because he hasn’t had time to promote the deck as much as he would like. However, the second story has a banquet room and the deck contains four tables any restaurant visitor can use.
“It’s beautiful out there, and the people who come see it, they come back,” Reese said. “Every single person that has been here and has taken the time to go see it absolutely loves it. I think people should start utilizing the river a little more. (We) should do more up (on the deck) anyway, maybe just to bring people up there.”
Restaurants aren’t the only businesses drawn to the river as a selling point. Gina and Mike Mitchell own Riverside Suites, a building at 231 W. Water St. that contains office spaces, apartments and two retail storefronts, including one for Copy Express, which the Mitchells own.
Gina Mitchell said 75 percent of the Riverside Suites building is occupied, including a counseling office that rents an office suite. The couple currently has offices for rent.
“We like the view from the offices and we think that’s what attracted people who want to work in an office with a view,” Mitchell said.
Views of the river appeal to the apartment tenants, too, Mitchell said. One tenant takes advantage of his riverside location to go fly fishing.
“He walks out the back door, crosses the (Main Street) bridge, does his thing and can walk home from there,” Mitchell said. “He likes that he can do that right there and doesn’t have to go anywhere.”
Another tenant has a back deck where he likes to sit and watch the river and a third tenant moved in because he wanted to be able to walk to work each day, Mitchell said. The couple is working to expand river viewing options
“We’re still working on a plan for the rooftop deck that would have another view of the river,” Mitchell said.
Ahmad has ideas for better viewing of the river in the future, too. He said he would like the city of Elmira to break a little bit of the wall or build a staircase going over the wall so Water Street pedestrians wanting to see the river up close can do so.
“No one can go see the river unless they go far, a mile away, drive back and they lose their energy,” Ahmad said.
Luckily for Ahmad and other Elmira residents, the city of Elmira and the Friends of the Chemung River Watershed are working to give downtown Elmira better public access to the river. Tentative plans include a viewing platform on the flood wall overlooking the river near the Riverfront Park on Water Street in downtown Elmira.
Other options include installing a stairway over the flood wall to give the public access to the river. When the river is low, hikers can trek along the banks; it provides great exercise and an up-close view of the river and nature.
Plans also include building a multi-use recreation trail adjacent to the flood wall but high enough to give users a scenic view of the water.
“Providing visual and physical access to the river in downtown is one of the most popular requests by the public,” said Jim Pfiffer, director of the Friends of the Chemung River Watershed. “That’s why we are partnering with the city and other organizations to make the river more accessible and enjoyable.
“It’s a beautiful waterway that flows through the center of our city. The river not only attracts businesses to the area, but also provides us with an opportunity to connect with nature and learn more about our environment.”
Ruth Harper has lived in Elmira since she was a toddler. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communication from St. Bonaventure University. While pursuing a master’s degree in integrated marketing communications from St. Bonaventure, she works as a freelance writer and marketer. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. ...more>>