When you walk through Central Park Plaza or drive down Lincolnway, it’s hard not to notice the colors that paint downtown Valparaiso. The colors from flowers, trees, and bushes are all designed for a purpose: to enhance beauty and maintain an attractive atmosphere encouraging those who live here to stay, and those incoming, to live.
On September 26, the city gathered to appreciate and acknowledge the landscaping that lines the streets we, and visitors, travel daily. But how does this incredible landscape stay maintained, updated, and healthy? The Valparaiso Horticulture team.
The Valpo Parks and Valpo Parks Foundation invited community members, new and old, to the new Horticulture Center Open House to catch a sneak peek into the updated facilities that foster and prepare the plants that fill the city and to meet the team behind the magic.
“The Horticulture staff has been led by Steve Martinson since the 1980s, and they are extraordinary. It takes a strong team to make all this happen,” said John Seibert, Valpo Parks Executive Director.
Horticulture Superintendent, Steve Martinson, expressed his thoughts on the expansion of the center.
“In 2017 we built and designed this place ourselves. Our job is to maintain all the landscape features in the city like the round-a-bouts, parks, City Hall, Central Park, route 30, and all wildlife areas.”
Martinson explained that each team member is designated a part of the city, and have the reins to design the landscape in that area--transforming it from a basic design to something more personal and specific.
“Every person on this team is responsible for a subset of this city. If you love the fairgrounds --that’s John. If you like Ogden gardens--Paul. The VU roundabout and route 30--April. That’s how it’s done,” Martinson explained. “Building this center makes it possible to keep these employees.”
Community members were excited for an inside look at how, and where, the landscaping progress happens and develops.
“We moved here in the 70s. It was a small community then,” said Terry Davis, Valpo resident. “But the city has grown, and it’s grown good. Which is the important thing. It’s a community we are proud of.”
Valpo Parks gives thanks to the sponsors of the new Valpo Parks Horticulture Center. They include 1st Source Bank, Lehman & Lehman, and SiteOne Landscape Supply.
Matt Vessley, Regional President at 1st Source Bank explained the backstory of their sponsorship with the Valpo Parks Department.
“Our sponsorship is a unique story. The 1st Source Bank sponsorship comes by way of one of our colleagues, Vice President and Trust Officer, Trish Sarkisian,” said Vessley. “She was recently selected as a recipient of the Ernestine M. Raclin Community Leadership Award, where she had the opportunity to give to a charity of her choice. She decided to donate that to the Valpo Parks, which allowed us to sponsor this event.”
The open house also included a glimpse at the ValPAWraiso Dog Park under construction, which was lined with markers to identify what the future holds for the park. The beautiful property, directly next to the Horticulture Center, will offer future opportunities for the community members of Valparaiso...and their furry friends!