City hosts groundbreaking, planting day for beautification efforts off Route 251
‘Any time we can make a pretty space that does good things, we definitely want to’
ROCHELLE — On Friday, the City of Rochelle hosted a groundbreaking ceremony and community planting day at the vacant lot on the southeast corner of Illinois Route 251 and 10th Avenue.
City employees planted trees and perennials to create a pollinator habitat. Plants were supplied by the city and Hagemann Horticulture. The city owns two lots on the corners of Illinois Route 251 and 10th Avenue and purchased them for visibility at the intersection.
“Green spaces like this are good for pollinators,” City Sustainability Coordinator Molly Sedig said. “It's beautiful and helps support our beautification efforts. Trees can help with stormwater management. Any time we can make a pretty space that does good things, we definitely want to. We're excited for that opportunity and glad to have you all out here.”
The day came to be after city staff discussed vacant spaces in Rochelle and what could be done to improve and beautify them, Sedig said. City Community Development Director Michelle Pease suggested the two visible lots off Illinois Route 251. The plantings are set back so visibility is not impacted.
Mayor John Bearrows thanked those that came out to help with planting on Friday.
“I'm just happy to have the folks that came out to help us,” Bearrows said. “It's nice to see everybody pitch in. That's one thing about Team Rochelle, they always show up to help out with things and it's a team effort. It's going to be a great addition to this corridor.”
In 2022, the city received Tree City USA recognition. It celebrated that status by planting trees on Friday.
“Part of that was celebrating Arbor Day and I can't think of a better way to honor that and our recognition as a Tree City USA community than by getting outside and getting our hands a little dirty and planting some plants and trees and creating a little pocket of beauty,” Sedig said.
Along with trees, perennials were planted as well in the interest of helping pollinators.
“If you look around, there's just grass yards around us,” Sedig said. “Grass doesn't really provide food in general for pollinators, especially when it's mowed. So pollinators have to fly quite a ways to find food. A little pocket of what we're planting creates a little stopping spot for food and nectar. One of the plants going in is hearty hibiscus. Some butterflies use that for host plants.”
Sedig said beautification can help build residents’ pride in the community and that the plantings Friday will make for a friendlier and cooler corner. She also thanked those that came out to help with the work.
“It's wonderful to have people take the time to help us do this,” Sedig said. “It shows the buy-in and the community's commitment and pride and the desire to build community and make it something beautiful and a place that they want to live and future generations want to live. I'm just very excited and very happy for this opportunity. It's awesome.”