Grosse Pointe City is house-proud of Beautification Award winners

By: K. Michelle Moran | Grosse Pointe Times | Published October 10, 2017

GROSSE POINTE CITY — From perfectly manicured lawns to pretty gardens, many Grosse Pointe City residents demonstrated their green thumbs and an eye for landscape design this summer.

A few stood out even more than the others. During a ceremony Oct. 4, the Grosse Pointe City Beautification Commission honored winners of this year’s Beautification Awards. Eight homes and one business — Hunchback LLC at 718 Notre Dame St. — received honors this year.

Susan Hartz, co-chair of the Beautification Commission with Susan Budrys, said that the awards ceremony is “always one of the happiest evenings we have here.”

Susan and Thomas Peterson, who live in the 400 block of Washington Road, said before the ceremony that yard maintenance is a team effort.

“I picked the plants out, but he digs the holes,” Susan Peterson said of her husband.

The couple has lived in the house for about 12 1/2 years, and this is their first beautification award.

“I was very surprised,” Susan Peterson said.

Jennifer and Benjamin Weisbrodt, who reside in the 700 block of University Place, have also lived in their home for about 12 years.

“It is a never-ending project,” Jennifer Weisbrodt admitted of maintaining the yard.

Her husband agreed.

“I’d love to say it was done, but it’s never done,” Benjamin Weisbrodt said.

Other winners this year include Gregory and Ann Stevens, who live in the first block of Donovan Place; Brian and Constance Demkowicz, who live in the 400 block of Lakeland Street; Felicia Paluzzi, who lives in the 600 block of Lincoln Road; Evelyn Hansen, who lives in the 700 block of Lincoln Road; Judy Armaly and Peter Bailey, who live in the 700 block of Loraine Street; and Monique LaChance and Mark Walz, who live in the 800 block of University Place.

City Manager Pete Dame said the house on Donovan is “one of the original mansions” from Grosse Pointe’s storied past.

He praised a number of the winners, including Paluzzi’s home, which he said “was basically rebuilt.”

Paluzzi said she bought her home a couple of years ago. It dates back to the 1920s and had still been owned by the original family when she acquired it.

“We did a complete renovation,” said Paluzzi, crediting her contractor, Michigan Home Builders, with the work. She said the project resulted in some happy discoveries, such as an original limestone fireplace that was hidden behind a wall.

“Our housing stock is the most important thing to our city,” Dame said. “It’s what makes us who we are.”

He said the Beautification Awards are “an incentive” to encourage others to improve their properties.

Mayor Dale Scrace, who was on hand to present winners with a Grosse Pointe City Pewabic tile and certificate, also praised the residents for their efforts.

“It’s a great statement of our community,” he said. “It’s almost always the new people (who win these awards). … It’s just the time and care and attention that we put into our houses.”

Scrace thanked the Beautification Commission as well “for all of your time and all of your hard work.” As Budrys explained, the City is divided into five sections, from which the commission members traverse each street to select five finalists. From there, the entire commission studies those properties to determine the winners for the year, which she said takes several rounds of voting.

“It’s very difficult,” Budrys said of the selection process.

Some years, Budrys said, they have more winners, and some years they have fewer winners.

“Thank you for all of your hard work,” Hartz told the winners. “Thank you for making Grosse Pointe City a beautiful place to live.”

Budrys said the volunteer Commission also raises money for and plants flowers in the Village and at Neff Park, and Hartz added that members plant greens in pots and decorate the Village for the holidays.

“The City … is so enhanced because of the flowers,” Hansen said.

As commission members and residents alike will attest, beautification breeds more beautification.

“We’ve been inspired by what some of our neighbors have done in the City,” Benjamin Weisbrodt said.

Of course, one of the downsides to winning is the pressure to keep the yard looking picturesque.

“I’ve started watering more,” Jennifer Weisbrodt laughingly admitted.

The Beautification Commission is always looking for new members. Anyone interested in more information can contact City Clerk/Assistant City Manager Julie Arthurs at (313) 885-5800.