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[whitespace] Los Gatos is lovely ... and people are noticing

Los Gatos--Los Gatos is putting its prettiest face forward lately, as the town government, the Town of Los Gatos Chamber of Commerce, and individual community members increase their commitment to town beautification.

The results are several awards, including an "in-house" award from the Chamber to a local business woman for the creation and maintenance of her storefront, and a national award from the paint industry for being one of the "Prettiest Painted Places" in the U.S.

The latter award, created by Rohm and Haas Company's Paint Quality Institute, is the first step to a national competition for the "Prettiest Painted Places in America." In conjunction with Better Homes and Gardens and Architecture magazines, the Paint Quality Institute will evaluate Los Gatos and nine other California cities, as well as municipalities nationwide.

Local architect and Chamber Beautification Committee member Gary Schloh did the legwork for the competition, presenting judges with the history of Los Gatos, a summary of its architectural styles and a number of photographs.

"I tried get commercial as well as residential slides," Schloh said, "because it gives a better perspective of what Los Gatos is really about." Schloh added that a judge would come to Los Gatos to view the town the next month. A final decision will be made in September.

Among the buildings Schloh included in his submission were businesses on Main Street, in Old Town and N. Santa Cruz Avenue, and historical homes on Broadway, Tait Avenue and Glenridge Avenue. Los Gatos High School was also included.

The beautification committee also offered a reward of its own recently, the first of the chamber's quarterly beautification awards. The recipient was Joella Conover, owner of Antiques and Interiors on E. Main Street. Her storefront was selected from a number of nominees along N. Santa Cruz Avenue, Main Street and Los Gatos Boulevard.

Conover's storefront is decorated by colorful seasonal flowers in brick planter boxes surrounded my miniature wrought iron fences. The original design was done by noted landscape architect Jim Chadwick and is maintained by Green Season's landscaping. According to Ann Timm, Conover's employee, the actual landscaping is in need of a revamping.

"To us, it's not looking very good," Timm said, "but it still looks really nice. The whole building has been totally repainted and we do take a lot of pride in the building."

That pride coincides well with the beautification committee's whole purpose, which is to raise awareness on the importance of "enhancing the natural and physical beauty of our town." The group has participated in town cleanup days with other community organizations, assisted seniors from Los Gatos Meadows in planting flowers for Earth Day and worked on beautifying the town's gateways, such as the S. Santa Cruz Avenue entrance off northbound Highway 17.

Committee and town councilman Joe Pirzynski said Conover's store made an excellent subject for the first beautification award. It's a very attractive corner," he said. "The way the planter boxes have been enhanced with the colorful flowers gives the whole corner a certain ambiance."

Other members of the Chamber's beautification team include Sheri Lewis, Shirley Henderson, Marie Tallman, Greg Stowers, Calle Brophy, Beth Cilker Smith, Rob Walker, Nancy Walker, Phil Couchee, Azita Agheuli, Joan Webber and Malaina Taylor.

Sidewalk Steam Cleaner Up and Running

The town's commercial sidewalks are also tidier, thanks to the town's recent purchase of a sidewalk steam cleaning machine. While some community members criticized the town for funding what they believe should be a store owner's responsibility, the town council approved the machine purchase because council members were tired of paying a hefty amount to contract with private sidewalk cleaners. The town also approved hiring another maintenance worker. However, the maintenance division is still short several employees.

The machine, which cost more than $40,000, is now used in the early morning hours to clean downtown sidewalks. According to Larry Perlin, the town's new director of parks and public works, the department is working on a systematic plan for cleaning the sidewalks, which requires identifying particularly dirty areas and formulating a schedule.

Once a sidewalk plan is cemented, Perlin said the town could look at other uses for the machine. In Saratoga, a similar steam cleaner is used to remove graffiti, and clean trash cans, park bathrooms, maintenance equipment and even vehicles.

"It's a piece of equipment a town the size of Los Gatos can easily justify owning," Perlin said, "even if the town didn't have a systematic downtown sidewalk-cleaning program."
Nathan R. Huff

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