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The neighborhood residents are calling it "Lovejoy in Bloom," and the customers at Phil's Fruit and Vegetable Market are particularly pleased.

"They're all commenting. They love the flowers. Some of them think they're for sale," said Phil Bifulco, proprietor of the new market at 1121 East Lovejoy St.

His is the first "patch of flowers" signifying the beautification of the peaceful, long-established East Lovejoy neighborhood -- a project of the East Lovejoy Business and Taxpayers Association.

It's a project organized by Marge Thielman Hastreiter and Florence Przybylski, members of the association and longtime residents of the well-kempt, self-contained East Lovejoy neighborhood.

It's also a project born of a scarcity of city and state beautification funds.

"We asked the city," said Mrs. Hastreiter, who is also on the association's executive board. "But we were informed that there's no money for beautification available. We asked the state. We even wrote a grant applying for funds from the state. But we were denied any assistance at this time."

Mrs. Hastreiter and Mrs. Przybylski had proposed an eight-point plan that would, in time, revolutionize the appearance of the East Lovejoy neighborhood -- home for many decades to Buffalonians of predominantly German, Italian, Polish and Irish descent. When the two were turned down on beginning funds for the plan, they decided to "start small" without them.

Mrs. Hastreiter got the ball rolling by suggesting in fliers and the neighborhood newspapers that residents plant flowers in their front yards and hang flowers and window boxes on their porches.

Many people took the advice.

Then, under the sponsorship of the East Lovejoy Business and Taxpayers Association, she and Mrs. Przybylski offered, and still are offering, flowers free to businessmen and women of the area interested in beautifying the fronts of their properties for the summer.

"Their only responsibility is to plant and give the flowers tender loving care for the summer months," said Mrs. Hastreiter.

The first to ask for free flowers was Joel Brandel, owner of the building where Phil's Fruit and Vegetable Market is located. He also bought some flowers, and his daughters -- Sara, 7, and Rachel, 3 -- helped to plant the geraniums, alyssum, impatiens and coleus that now border the tree in front of Phil's produce market.

"It seems that blight takes over an area so quickly," Mrs. Hastreiter said. "So why not reverse the action and plant flowers? Maybe something beautiful will spread instead."

The proposed eight-point plan for the East Lovejoy area, bounded by William, Bailey, Broadway and North Ogden, would include:

A master plan that would see old buildings on East Lovejoy and surrounding streets restored, storefronts painted and awnings and spotlights put up to bring out features of century-old buildings.

A welcoming arch at East Lovejoy and Bailey with the name "LOVEJOY" lighted across the top.

Trees, flowers, a memorial to Lovejoy veterans and a sign -- "Welcome to East Lovejoy" -- on the island at William and North Ogden Streets.

Trees along William Street near the railroad tracks, and on neighboring streets.

Flowers in the tree areas along East Lovejoy Street and in front of the library, at Passive Park, at School 43 and in front of parking and other public spots.

Flower baskets hung on light standards in the spring, additions made to wreath decorations in winter.

A large clock erected near the bank on Ideal and East Lovejoy -- as an attraction and an asset for residents and passers-by.

Restoration of the Hennepin Park bicycle/jogging path and installation of a skating rink.

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