La Bella Fontana Park Restoration Project
Caring for La Bella Fontana Park in the middle of Naples has been a focus of our Garden Club for much of our history. Photos from the 70s and 80s show members working with trowels, rakes and brooms "at the fountain". A deteriorating landscape in 2006 prompted our Club to join with NIA to raise funds for landscape maintenance and replacement of dead sections of the boxwood hedge.
We began advocating for our iconic park with the City of Long Beach’s Parks, Recreation and Marine Department (PRM) and with then Councilman Gary DeLong. They responded with funding for two new olive trees and improved maintenance. NIGC established a budget category for the park in 2009 and it soon became an official beautification project for the Garden Club. PRM suggested we formally adopt the park, which we did, and its maintenance became a regular Club activity. Members carrying out this work became known as the “Bellas”.
In 2011 the Park’s trees showed signs of disease. At the request of PRM we hired horticulturalists to analyze bark, leaves, and soil, and we implemented their suggestions. They returned twice to examine the trees but, unfortunately, they found further deterioration.
By 2016 we knew there was no hope of a remedy and we formed a committee to study replacement of the trees. The committee determined that the replacement of eight trees would cost $45,000. In 2018 PRM partially funded these costs; Councilwoman Suzie Price was instrumental in getting City Council to approve some further funding; NIGC added a bequest from the Sheila Butterbaugh Estate and the NIA has pledged some funding.
The project highlight is eight California Pepper trees (Schinus Molle). Electrical and irrigation systems will be also be updated. Two new Windmill Palms (Trachycarpus Molle) will be planted in January 2019 and new uplighting will be installed.