With summer in full swing and vegetation sprouting like Jack’s proverbial beanstalk, Pacific officials say the city needs a more comprehensive approach to beautification in public spaces.
City fathers are considering taking a page from the state Adopt-A-Highway program and turning to residents, civic groups and local businesses asking them to adopt green spaces in the hope of giving the city a more manicured look.
Mayor Jeff Palmore says complaints of dying flower beds in the city park and uncut park fringes cry out for a plan big enough to tackle a number of unsightly spots throughout the city.
The problem might be as small as running a hose from the water faucet to a flower bed in Blackburn Park or as large as trimming overgrown areas in and near the city parks.
The city cuts the grass in the parks, but trim work is left to the city street crews which also are tapped to help build curbs and sidewalks.
The topic was discussed at the July 1 board meeting when Alderman Steve Myers reported that the plants in the raised planter in Blackburn Park were all dead.
Myers constructed the raised planter when his son Zach Myers installed the replica Civil War cannon in the blufftop park as an Eagle Scout project. It has been planted with blooming plants twice and both times the plants eventually died from lack of water.
Since the installation of the cannon, the park has drawn a steady stream of visitors, many from outside the city.
Water is available in the park, but it does not extend to the raised planter. To keep plants alive, a sprinkler would have to be installed in the planter or someone would physically have to attach a hose to water the planter.
The planter is not the only section of the city where routine lawn maintenance is needed, according to Myers, adding the community used to have a Garden Club.
Todd Streiler, who is crafting a new comprehensive plan for the city, said one of the programs he is exploring is an “Adopt-A-Site” program, which some cities use to reward volunteers for maintaining small green spaces.
He said the municipalities put up a sign with the name of the person or group that maintains the spot, similar to the state Adopt-A-Highway signs.
Palmore said he likes the idea, but it could only work with a well-organized plan. The mayor said he planned to meet with Steve Flannery, park board president, about how to implement it.
He said the plan would have to be done right in order for it to work over time.
“The city would have to designate the sites that we’d ask organizations or businesses to adopt and the park board is the obvious organization to select the sites,” Palmore said. “But we wouldn’t want to limit it to a hard list.”
Once the program is working and residents see the results some volunteers might come forward and identify a site not on the list that they would like to adopt, he said.
Businesses, civic groups and churches are the obvious target of a request calling for Adopt-A-Site volunteers, the mayor said.
Resident Deborah Wiersma brought a request to the meeting, citing the recent campaign by New Beginnings Lutheran Church that provided yard work for individuals who had been cited for unsightly property but were unable to do the work themselves.
Wiersma suggested that individuals and groups throughout the city might be willing to join the effort.
Putting up a sign that identifies the group maintaining it seems to be a good practice, the mayor said.
Flannery said as good as the idea sounds, the city park system is in need of adequate funding to keep it in good shape for public use.
“When I’m in Washington or Ballwin and I see workers on the side of the road trimming shrubs or installing new plants there’s usually a truck nearby that says City of Washington or City of Ballwin,” Flannery said. “The parks are part of the city. In addition to the Boys Scouts and volunteers that help us, we need more funds.”
Flannery also said the mayor is right to call for a well thought out plan.
“I’ve been calling for a parks master plan since I’ve been president of the park board,” Flannery said. “I agree that a good plan is what we need.”