new providence: community-wide beautification

New Providence, like Hubbard, has steadily grown over the last seven years. Since 2010, the community has increased its population by nearly 20 percent – approximately ten times the state’s population growth rate during the same period.

Community leadership has taken an active role in supporting this growth. The community recently made enhancements to Heritage Park and has long worked proactively to ensure the community is well-kept. About fifteen years ago, the community revamped its downtown, which is home to a hardware store, a flower shop, a soda shop, and a woodworking shop, among others.

Downtown New Providence benefits from its close proximity to Heritage Park and the historic New Providence Roundhouse. The Roundhouse is frequently used for weddings, receptions, and other community-focused events. The community club hosts three breakfasts per year at The Roundhouse, with each drawing 400 to 500 people. Downtown’s Soda Fountain is home to a weekly breakfast, too, which regularly draws 100 people; funds from these breakfasts support refurbishing the city as well as scholarships for local high schoolers.

New Providence should build on its existing downtown beautification theme: Significant brickwork, green planters and light posts, and hanging baskets and ground-level planters.

City leadership should prioritize the installation of planters and light posts, beginning with East Main Street. Iowa River Trail officials expect that the trail will be opened up – at least in a rough form – to Gifford by the end of fiscal year 2019. There is a possibility that the trail could be extended to Union at this time, but this is dependent on funding. Assuming the temporary termini of the Iowa River Trail will be Gifford, New Providence is poised to lead a growing bicycle tourism market in Hardin County. Creating an inviting eastern gateway will get people into the community and spending their money at places like the Soda Fountain and New Providence Hardware.

Weaving the beautification project together with other placemaking projects as well as existing efforts in the area will be imperative for the project’s success. For instance, community leadership must work with the county-wide branding effort to implement wayfinding signage on Highway D-55. The green wall on Alden’s creative center could function as a nice complement to New Providence’s beautification and underscore the county-wide emphasis of this plan.

In terms of existing efforts, the horticulture program at Ellsworth Community College should be at the top of the list for New Providence leaders. The horticulture program exposes students to soil science, pest management, horticultural crops, perennial crops, organic crop production, and environmental biology. Additionally, students in the certificate program are required to have an apprenticeship or practicum, giving New Providence a steady stream of interested candidates to assist with growing and caring for the plants.

Action Steps

work with landscape architect to develop community beautification design

City and community volunteers

Explore design assistance opportunities with Iowa State University landscape architecture department. Determine how to build on existing beautification efforts, prioritizing Highway D-55. Consider wayfinding signage placement as a component of the beautification effort.

Q2 2018

obtain cost estimates

City and community volunteers

Work with consultant (either hired or working on a pro-bono basis) to obtain cost estimates. Consider maintenance costs of all items.

Q1 2019

develop project phasing

City and community volunteers

Determine community capacity to support installation and maintenance. Group project areas or elements into discrete phases. Determine appropriate sequencing of phases, being sure to consider other planned investments in the community.

Q2 2019

secure funds and begin implementing beautification strategy throughout community

City and community volunteers

Determine public dollars, if any, available for beautification effort. Develop fundraising goal and roadmap, targeting a mix of local, state, and federal supporters. Share status updates throughout campaign to maintain and build excitement around project. Hold community celebration upon completion of phase one; consider partnering with the Iowa River Trail team to celebrate progress on the trail and on the beautification of New Providence.

Q2 2019