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Published: Sunday, 6/1/2014 - Updated: 1 year ago

Costs a factor as officials look to spruce up Toledo

Mayor Collins calls planting of flowers a ‘want,’ not a need

John Bishop of Bishop Landscape Inc. in Toledo plants flowers Wednesday along Monroe Street in Toledo. John Bishop of Bishop Landscape Inc. in Toledo plants flowers Wednesday along Monroe Street in Toledo.

After several years of weeds, barren planters, and medians, Toledo is set to bloom for the second consecutive year.

The Collins administration is paying a private contractor $5,600 this year to plant flowers and handle irrigation systems at some flower bed areas owned by the city. It’s a pittance compared with what the city once spent on beautification, but it’s more than what the Bell administration spent in its the first three years, when spending on flowers dried up to nothing.

“We have reached out to the public and businesses and we have some intersections that are being adopted as part of what I believe to be a fundamental concept where people in the private sector are recognized,” Mayor D. Michael Collin said. “I think this is absolutely the way Toledo should be — the partnerships created in urban beautification strengthening the city.”

Flowers enhance the city’s beauty and livability, the mayor said, but they cost money and the city has been short on cash.

“I think urban beautification is a direct statement of the quality-of-life. However, when you are charged with the challenges we are facing, being as austere as we are, I think things become wants and not needs,” he said.

Flowers are a “want,” the mayor declared.

“We do not have the financial ability to deal with wants, only needs,” he said.

The Collins administration is paying Bishop Landscape Inc. $5,600 to plant flowers and handle irrigation. The Collins administration is paying Bishop Landscape Inc. $5,600 to plant flowers and handle irrigation.

Bishop Landscape Inc., 2222 Belvedere Dr., will plant flowers along medians on Monroe, Cherry, Summit, and Dorr streets, Reynolds Road, and the Anthony Wayne Trail.

“You can’t compare to what we used to do,” said Denny Garvin, Toledo’s commissioner of parks, recreation and forestry. “I used to have full-time and seasonal people assigned to urban beautification. In 2006, I had three full-timers and probably eight to 10 seasonal employees, including water trucks.”

Mr. Garvin said flowers add to the urban landscape.

“We have flower pots, medians beds, and irrigation,” he said. “So if we have it, we should definitely use it.”

In 2012, for the third year in a row, the Bell administration opted to forgo funding for planting and maintenance of the city’s once well- manicured medians and planters. In the midst of the city’s inaction, however, several businesses and community groups stepped forward to do some of the work. In downtown Toledo, volunteers cleaned up weed-strewn medians and barren planters along Summit Street and in Levis Square and planted flowers in the place of weeds.

This year, the Exchange Club again plans to adopt some pots and a median along Central Avenue in West Toledo, and volunteers plan to beautify Willys Parkway between Hillcrest and Sylvania avenues, Mr. Garvin said.

The Toledo Warehouse District Association tended to the area around the Toledo Farmers Market and a median on Summit Street by pulling weeds and planting flowers, as it has done in the past.

“We did a lot of weeding and cleanup last Saturday in connection with the flower weekend at the Farmers Market,” said Diane Keil-Hipp, president of the Toledo Warehouse District Association. “... We want when people come into the neighborhood to say, ‘Wow, what a cool place.’ ”

Contact Ignazio Messina at: imessina@theblade.com or 419-724-6171 or on Twitter @IgnazioMessina.

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