Picture perfect takes practice, as beautification winners show

By: K. Michelle Moran | Grosse Pointe Times | Published October 15, 2019

  As Grosse Pointe City Beautification Commission Co-Chairs Susan Hartz, left, and Susan Budrys, right, look on, award winner Michelle Smith, center, happily looks at her award certificate and City Pewabic tile. Beautification awards were presented Oct. 2 at Kercheval Place in the Village

As Grosse Pointe City Beautification Commission Co-Chairs Susan Hartz, left, and Susan Budrys, right, look on, award winner Michelle Smith, center, happily looks at her award certificate and City Pewabic tile. Beautification awards were presented Oct. 2 at Kercheval Place in the Village

Photo by K. Michelle Moran

  Jim Tepel, center, thanks the work done by local landscaper A Southern Gardener as he and his wife, Shauna Tepel, left, accept a Grosse Pointe City Beautification Award from Budrys, right.

Jim Tepel, center, thanks the work done by local landscaper A Southern Gardener as he and his wife, Shauna Tepel, left, accept a Grosse Pointe City Beautification Award from Budrys, right.

Photo by K. Michelle Moran

 Hartz, left, and Budrys, right, congratulate Tim and Susie Vaneckoute on their home and yard.

Hartz, left, and Budrys, right, congratulate Tim and Susie Vaneckoute on their home and yard.

Photo by K. Michelle Moran

GROSSE POINTE CITY — When it comes to beautification, you can’t have too much of a good thing. Some of the winners of the Grosse Pointe City Beautification Commission’s 2019 beautification awards are proof of that, having earned this distinction before.

The Beautification Commission presented awards to eight homes and one business during a ceremony Oct. 2 in the Kercheval Place building in the Village.

“I want to thank the homeowners for the lovely job they do keeping their homes as lovely as they are,” said Beautification Commission Co-Chair Susan Budrys.

Assistant City Manager/City Clerk Julie Arthurs divides the City into sections, and different commission members go through a section, evaluating every home and business to select the best ones that year, Budrys said. Properties are chosen based on structure, landscaping, maintenance, the overall appearance of the home and seasonal color, she said. Once finalists for each area are chosen, Budrys said, commission members evaluate all of the finalists and each person picks their top 12 candidates. From there, she said, the commission narrows the list down to the winners; there can be as many as 12 winners in any given year.

Donald and Joellen Ulrich, of 7 Sycamore Lane, have lived in their home for the last 25 years.

“This is our third (beautification) award,” a delighted Donald Ulrich said as he accepted the certificate and City Pewabic tile with his wife. “That’s great.”

Robert and Francine Gough, of 780 University Place, have also received this honor before.

“I’m thrilled,” said Francine Gough, who added a butterfly garden to the front yard that brought extra color and life to the property this season.

Michelle Smith, of 424 Rivard Blvd., said she wanted to create “this cozy cottage feel” with her home and property.

“I have won this before, and I didn’t think I could win it again,” she said as she happily accepted her award.

Tim and Susie Vaneckoute have lived in their home at 24 Village Lane since 1995. Tim Vaneckoute said he believes they’re only the third owners of the house, which was built in 1925. Susie Vaneckoute said Village Lane was one of a handful of streets she wanted to live on when the couple was searching for their home; they were drawn to its historical charm and character.

The honor was a bit bittersweet for James and Marian Roberge, of 436 Washington Road, who are leaving their 1924 home after 25 years to move to Ann Arbor because of Marian Roberge’s job.

“What a lovely thing for us to take with us,” Marian Roberge said.

Other winners included Jim and Shauna Tepel, of 2 Cameron Place; W. Vititoe, L. MacNeil and S. Kornblum, of 1 Dodge Place; and Jacqueline Goyette, of 769 Loraine St.

The only business winner this year was Chez Lou Lou at 16900 Kercheval Ave. in the Village.

“They really do a nice job,” Beautification Commission Co-Chair Susan Hartz said.

Previous winners cannot win in consecutive years; Budrys said they’re only eligible for consideration every five years.

“The trend that we really are seeing is that more and more people are paying attention to their landscaping,” Hartz said after the awards. “People seem to be more interested in making the outside of their home more inviting.”

She said more homeowners are doing their own landscaping as well, as opposed to hiring a professional company to do it.

Besides the annual awards ceremony, the Beautification Commission helms the nonprofit initiative Project Bloom, in which individuals, groups and businesses sponsor public gardens in the Village, at Neff Park and elsewhere throughout the City. Now in its eighth year, Budrys said Project Bloom was born “during the housing (market) crisis,” when the City didn’t have the funds to pay for flowers.

“We started out small,” Budrys said. “We got a tremendous response, even in our first year.”

In the past year, she said, they raised about $5,000 for the hundreds of flowers on City property across the community. Volunteers are always needed to plant, and sponsors are also always welcome, she said.

“This is a really big endeavor,” Budrys said.

The Beautification Commission’s next project will be decorating for the holidays, which is expected to take place before Thanksgiving. Budrys said volunteers are needed, and prospective volunteers can email her at suebu drys@gmail.com for more information.

For more information about Project Bloom, contact Budrys or visit the City’s website at www.grossepointecity.org.