By Julie E. Greene, Herald Mail Media
A community tree grew in a railroad underpass over the weekend, and a field by Bester Elementary School was planted to attract butterflies.
The tree was a mural painted along the north wall of the West Memorial Boulevard railroad underpass less than a block from the school.
Both projects in Hagerstown’s South End show great things happen when people and organizations in the community work together, said Keith Fanjoy, CEO of San Mar Family and Community Services. The nonprofit oversees the Bester Community of Hope, which was involved in both projects.
The butterfly garden and mural are part of a long-term effort to revitalize the Memorial Boulevard corridor, Fanjoy said.
Volunteers from Hagerstown Artists Group, Community of Hope and the South End Neighborhoods 1st were working on the mural Sunday. The underpass was closed most of the weekend to allow for the work.
Hagerstown Artists member Charlotte Whalley, 25, of Hagerstown, came up with the design that included community input.
The tree signifies growth in the community and provides a welcome feel, Whalley said. Behind the tree is a sun over water. The neighborhood group wanted the design to include water because the underpass gets flooded during heavy rains.
Words like “hope,” “love,” “friendship,” and “together” appear in English, German or Spanish to reflect cultural heritages in the area. Volunteers were getting ready to paint the words early Sunday afternoon in some of the larger green bubbles that represent leaves.
Lesley Whalley, founder of Hagerstown Artists, said the group wanted to do a mural and ended up working with Fanjoy and the neighborhood group.
The Community of Hope helped fund the mural. Neighborhoods 1st President Melanie Pepple said the group used money the City of Hagerstown provided for neighborhood improvement projects.
Pepple said the group had been looking for a project for its northern boundary, and the mural brightens up an area that looked “grungy.”
Up the street, Community of Hope and Ladders to Leaders joined forces to plant the monarch butterfly garden that will become an outdoor classroom for Bester students, Fanjoy said. Wildflower seeds will be added to the area off South Potomac Street.
The Monarch Alliance and Community Foundation of Washington County funded the plantings, Fanjoy said. Community of Hope worked out the public-private partnership with Washington County Public Schools.
Eva Gillard, program administrator for Ladders to Leaders and whose daughter attends second grade at Bester, helped with the planting.
The project is a good idea not only for the students, but for the community, Gillard said.