CdM Today: BID takes a pass on artificial grass

Nixing plans to add fake grass to Corona del Mar's tree wells, the Business Improvement District's board members now are planning a spring event that could fill 150 neglected tree wells with expert landscaping, according to memos and interviews with BID members.

Most of Corona del Mar's tree wells are "unsightly" and filled with dirt and rocks — but artificial turf is not the answer, according to a draft of a proposal that the Business Improvement District will submit to the City Council.

The artificial turf solution appeared to be gaining momentum earlier this year when the BID board arranged to have samples installed in two tree wells near Goldenrod Avenue. Balboa Island's BID added artificial turf to the island's tree wells in June 2009, but according to the Corona del Mar memo, "This option is considered inconsistent with the aesthetic that is desired in Corona del Mar."

Instead the group has drafted a plan that would allow business owners that maintain tree wells to continue to do so, while giving $100 per tree well for expert landscapers to take over planting the neglected wells. The group wants to organize an event that will take place in the spring "in which landscape architects and garden designers will donate their design services and install new landscape…," the draft memo states.

"The aesthetic goal and desire is to enhance the village business district by adding a charming garden-like atmosphere," according to a December newsletter from the Corona del Mar BID.

"The beautification plan would include a budget for new plant materials, irrigation improvements, ongoing maintenance and project outreach," the newsletter states.

The budget for the project is $15,000 for the plant allowance, plus $5,000 for advertising, $2,500 for irrigation improvements and $1,500 per month for ongoing maintenance.

Several residents had complained about the proposed artificial turf because of the plastic look, smell and health concerns from the plastic material. Other residents said that the Balboa Island artificial turf now has a foul odor from dogs, adding they were glad that Corona del Mar would not be adding more fake turf.

"I'm so glad we're going for real and natural and not plastic and dangerous," said Corona del Mar resident Tracey Baltera, who had complained to City Councilwoman Nancy Gardner about the artificial turf. "This news just makes my day."

Library turns page on expansion

The Newport Beach Central Library will begin work on an expansion project that will connect it to the new Civic Center Plaza, beginning the week that all city offices including libraries are closed for the holidays.

"Beginning in December 2010, a construction wall will be built running through the Children's Room up to the 'New Book' section," according to the library's website. "The wall will be insulated to keep noise and dust at a minimum. Children's materials will be consolidated within the existing Children's Room and other branches. Audio books and newspapers have been relocated upstairs."

The project will connect the library's second floor to the new Civic Center Plaza with a bridge that will include a cafe, a credit union and wireless lounge area.

The first floor expansion will include a larger children's area, larger adult reading areas, a multimedia room and a staircase to the second floor.

Completion of the Civic Center and the opening of the bridge is scheduled for December 2012.

The library will reopen Jan. 3 and remain open during normal hours throughout the project.

City offers class to help businesses

The city of Newport Beach will host a free class for local business owners to learn how to adapt and grow in a shaky economy, city officials have announced.

The city has teamed with OPIS Network, a consulting firm, to bring its "Helping 100 Businesses for 100 Days" program to the OASIS Senior Center in Corona del Mar. The event will run from 8:30 a.m. to noon Jan. 22.

Dave Naidu, chief executive of OPIS Network, will discuss a 10-point strategy to help business owners develop a competitive edge, find and create new affiliate channels for marketing exposure and capital, understand the top seven trends for this new decade, and remain competitive in a technology-driven, global economy, according to a city news release.

One hundred businesses will be selected from the list of workshop participants to take part in additional training sessions that will help business representatives to develop new strategies and break old habits over the following 100 days, the city statement says. The free, additional training consists of three live classes and six online sessions.

The Newport Beach and CdM chambers of commerce also are sponsors.

The event is expected to be a sell-out, and reservations are strongly encouraged.

The OASIS Senior Center is at 801 Narcissus Ave. Admission is free for the workshop, and lunch will be provided with advance reservations. Call (949) 371-5811 or visit http://www.help100days.com for more information or to register.

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