Beautifying Veneta

Jaime Forsyth looks at Veneta Avenue from her 10th Street home every day and knew something needed to be done.

Jaime Forsyth looks at Veneta Avenue from her 10th Street home every day and knew something needed to be done.

“I kept thinking, ‘Man, that’s a lot of pavement,’” she said.

A group of volunteers began sprucing up the Veneta Avenue neighborhood Oct. 17 by laying down compost and bark, the first steps to creating the environmentally friendly rain gardens. Volunteers will plant Japanese maple trees between Ninth and 11th streets tomorrow.

“What everyone can appreciate is street beautification,” Forsyth said.

Once completed, the rain gardens will reduce the amount of untreated runoff that enters the stormwater system and, eventually, Puget Sound.

Forsyth led last year’s charge to get a grant from the city to help plant trees along 10th Street as part of the city’s Neighborhood Enhancement Program.

Memorial Lutheran Church Pastor Brian Banke saw Forsyth’s work on 10th Street and decided he’d like to do the same thing on Veneta.

“Initially it was going to be just in front of our church, but we decided to ask all the churches on our street,” he said.

Banke said it was an easy sell because all the churches wanted to spruce up Veneta Avenue. He said the city asked the churches to pave over plots to provide parking for shipyard workers, but, later on, no one was allowed to park there, so the asphalt was unused.

With the Neighborhood Enhancement Program no more, there was no grant money available for the Veneta Avenue project, but a few of the churches raised money to buy the trees and other materials were donated to the cause.

“Almost everything was donated for us, so we were just providing the labor,” Banke said.

The city of Tacoma donated and transported TAGRO, a product that mixes human biosolids and other gardening components. North Mason Fiber donated the bark and Waste Management delivered it to the site. Kitsap Trees and Shoreline Association also contributed to the project.

City of Bremerton workers dug the wide asphalt swaths a couple days before the volunteers came out to lay compost and bark. A few city workers even showed up Oct. 17 to help with the project.

“They have been just nothing short of phenomenal,” Forsyth said. “They just went above and beyond and I can’t say enough about them.”

Volunteers from Memorial Lutheran Church, Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church, First Christian Church of Bremerton and Apostolic Life Tabernacle braved heavy rain to start the beautification project last weekend. They originally planned to plant the trees that same day, but the rain postponed that until this weekend.

“I think it’ll certainly add a little esthetic value and be more environmentally friendly,” Banke said.

Forsyth worked with rain garden experts from Bremerton Parks, Washington State University Kitsap County Extension and Sea Grant.

Forsyth is looking for grant money to add other native plants to the rain gardens.

“We’d like this to be a showcase property maybe once we get the plants in here,” she said. “It will really be a Northwest rain garden.”