Making Bellevue curb at a time

Forest Avenue resident Joe Noll put his professional and educational experience in horticulture to work in his own little corner of Bellevue, spearheading a neighborhood effort to plant flowers along curbs and other unattractive areas. Photo by Tom Steiner for The Citizen

After a physically demanding week of working with the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy as well as with landscaping contractors, a young man might reasonably be expected to kick back with friends, have some refreshments, maybe watch some TV.

Joseph Noll, 24, of Bellevue, probably does do that from time to time, but some civic-minded projects occasionally take precedence.

Noll said that after graduating from Penn State, where he studied horticulture, he moved back home and asked himself what he could do to make his little section of Bellevue better.

While an 80-hour work week is not out of the ordinary for him, he thought that in his leisure hours, planting flowers along the streets near his home might be a good starting point to making his neighborhood a little more attractive.

Joseph wrote up a proposal and cleared it with the zoning officers to plant chrysanthemums in the narrow strips between sidewalks and curbs along Forest and Carolyn avenues.

Neighbors chipped in as well. Joseph solicited donations for the flower purchases and organized an afternoon of digging, planting and mulching.

"It looks nice. It dresses up the streets."

One area that had been strewn with rock and debris required special attention.

"I made my PA-One call to get utility clearances, and then got some friends to help digging it all out."

Even though he's earned heaps of praise from neighbors, Joseph maintains a low profile, not really seeking any attention. "I'm glad it turned out well. That's all I wanted. One lady who works in the shoe store said that it really brightens her day."

Store owner Ted Colaizzi said that everyone has noticed the plantings. "Joseph's enthusiasm and personality are reflected in the work that he has done on these streets. We've had so many clients tell us how beautiful it is."

A nicer neighborhood may be all that Joseph wanted for this project, but he has bigger and better plans for Bellevue -- maybe a Bellevue green initiative.

"For now, I wanted to start small and to see how it worked out. I'd like to expand, maybe plant the whole street in tulip bulbs. That would be beautiful!"

The 2005 Northgate grad has a simple explanation for his efforts. "I have many ideas for Bellevue. I'm living here. I just want to do something nice."

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