By Jon Cullick
“Transforming Bellevue . . . One Block at a Time”: that is the motto of the Bellevue Neighborhood Association (BNA). Founded in 2006, their mission is to promote Bellevue, Kentucky and its historic value through education, advocacy and committed actions to enhance the quality of life and develop a stronger sense of community.
The BNA originated many years ago as the Bellevue Civic Association. In the 1980’s a group of like-minded individuals decided to start a gardening group to help beautify Fairfield Avenue and the city’s many railroad lots. They hung flower baskets, created the Nagel Park flower beds and the Ward and Center Park, and surrounded what was once a plain basketball court at Taylor and Covert Run with grasses and trees. The Bellevue Civic Association began funding the group and they became one organization. The city also jumped on board and helped fund the many projects, buying the railroad lots and turning them into playgrounds and gardens.
Banners for Christmas and the summer season were sewn and hand painted at the city building by many volunteers. Chain link fences were painted dark green or black to help them fade into the background. A float was built every year for the Memorial Day parade. With installation of the Historic District, the city and BCA implemented educational projects on the history of Bellevue. Christmas and holiday decorations were hung. The pear trees in front of Kroger’s were planted to soften the hardscape. These past activities are mentioned to show what individuals can accomplish when we come together.
The large membership began to decrease after 2000, so in 2006, the small group voted to dissolve the Bellevue Civic Association, and the Bellevue Neighborhood Association was born. Two years later, in July 2008 they became a non-profit 501(c)3.
Today, the BNA offers many outreach programs and grants. The Adopt-a-Block program provides street, sidewalk, and landscape renovations to a block selected each year. (The 2014 block was the 100 block of Division Street.) Eligible homeowners who are making improvements to facades and landscapes may apply for Home Improvement Grants, which can provide matching funds up to $500 for project costs. The Tree Planting Program assists the city in replacing dead, damaged, or diseased trees. With the help of Public Works, the Garden Team maintains the sidewalk planters and gardens. The Decorating team maintains the seasonal decorations, such as wreaths, lighting, garland on light posts, and tree lighting, also with the help of Public Works. The BNA has implemented the replanting of the Bellevue Beach Park gazebo and the landscaping in front of the City Building. The BNA also sponsors “Blossom Alley,” Bellevue’s Community Garden.
In addition to all of these activities, the group supports local events. The BNA’s Civic Support Grants assist in offering events such as the Senior Citizen Luncheon, Art in the Park, and Mayesfest. In election years, BNA sponsors Meet the Candidate Nights. BNA publishes a monthly newsletter, which is available on their website and by e-mail.
Looking to the future, the incoming president, Mary Hagner, will be guiding the group with new ideas and projects.
The current president, Diane Witte, hopes to see more people get involved, especially younger residents and those who are new to Bellevue. “I want people to work to make their neighborhoods look outstanding!” Diane says. She believes that a city that looks welcoming makes a good impression and provides a positive environment to raise children.
As residents of Bellevue for nearly thirteen years, my wife, Cheryl, and I have an annual tradition. Every Christmas Eve, we get into our car with mugs of hot tea or chocolate, and we tour our town to see the decorations. Private property owners decorate their houses and storefronts. And the Bellevue Neighborhood Association makes the streets and sidewalks sparkle with holiday spirit. They mount illuminated snowflakes and wreaths on utility poles. They place evergreen plants tied with red bows in street corner flowerpots. They bring the beauty of the season to our beautiful town.
For more information about the Bellevue Neighborhood Association, including membership, grants, programs, events, and a free subscription to their newsletter, go to http://bna-ky.com or check out their page on Facebook.
(My thanks to Diane Witte for assisting me with this article.)