By all accounts, the America in Bloom (AIB) judges’ visit was a success.
Darren Dunkle, parks director, shared some insight on the visit at Thursday night’s park board meeting. The judges extensively toured the area and judged the city on their overall impression, environmental efforts, heritage preservation, urban forestry, landscapes, and floral displays.
Judges conducted interviews with municipal representatives and met with community volunteers.
“By all indications, they had a very favorable view of our community and what we’re doing,” said Dunkle, who took notes on some suggestions the judges made.
• Outstanding tree management plan.
• Great management plans when it comes to turf, beautification and environmental and natural resources, as well as the parks comprehensive master plan.
• Great cultural and historical involvement.
• Garden Club involvement was praised.
• Liked native plant use.
• Complimented residential recycling program and recycling center.
• Great water/wastewater operations.
• Hiring a horitculture specialist/arborist.
• Praised overall urban forestry efforts.
The judges said the city mows too much and suggested planting more native grass and wildflowers for environmental and manpower reasons.
Other suggestions included:
• Create a public/private tree planting program.
• Update tree ordinances.
• Develop a formalized volunteer program.
• Hire a volunteer coordinator.
• Develop more commercial and residential participation in the program, tree planting and landscaping in general.
• Develop a commercial recycling program.
Dunkle said official feedback will be coming, but these were some of the highlights he picked up on during the visit.
Sally Bocklage and Dave Wehmeyer served as chairs of the Washington in Bloom committee.
Official results from the contest won’t be available until about September, Dunkle said.