By Jennifer Grimes

Triplicate staff writer

Using flowers and whatever else they can get their hands on, some spirited volunteers are trying to whip the Crescent City harbor into shape.

The northwest corner of the inner boat basin used to be a barren and dirty flat of sand used as a home for dandelions.

But Bev Noll, Nancy Chernak and 13 other Gateway volunteers are transforming it and other corners of the harbor into landscaped gardens passersby may better appreciate.

We have a vision and were going to change this city and the harbor. Even though we dont have the best-looking docks and piers, we have lots of spirit, Chernak said.

Standing by this most recent landscape project, one has far-reaching views of both Battery Point Lighthouse and the rows of large fishing boats docked in the harbor.

Chernak said while working to plant flowers and place sculpture there, she met several people taking walks who were happy to see the transformation.

Its going to be a showcase, she said.

After seeing the success of several Gateway projects, Chernak said she got inspired to join in the mission.

Ive only been in it about a month, but Ive given it a lot of time because its amazing to see the people working together and it feels good, she said.

The group is also making sure the gardens will be watered and maintained for years to come.

Last weekend the volunteers spent several hours digging a 500-foot trench, laying plastic pipe and placing sprinkler heads throughout the area.

Chernak said the group meets every Sunday between 1:30 p.m. and 5 p.m. or so to work the gardens and make future plans to beautify other areas of the harbor.

Harbor Commissioner and Gateway member Bev Noll has hopes of turning the blighted, rusty dredge-pipe-crowded plot of coast next to the garden into a local marine museum, according to Chernak.

Bev has travelled all over the country looking at harbors so she really has a vision of making this into a tourist attraction as well as a working harbor, said Chernak.

Other Gateway projects underway include refurbishing the old decorative boat at the corner of Anchor Way and Highway 101. One of Gateways leaders, David Whitis, has repainted the boat and Chernak plans to use crabpots and other accessories to put plants in.

Whitis is also trying to give Front Street a nautical theme by roping together pier poles around the streetlight bases and flying colorful banners from the tops.

Wed like to get comment on it and some citizen participation. Right now its just a demonstration for the City Council, he said.

Its an expensive project, Whitis said, but Gateway is currently requesting seed money from the city, county and harbor governments to get that and other projects off the ground.

To join Gateway, call Scott and Shirley Cook at 464-6306.