Median planting progress being made

Volunteers are nearly done with the planting phase of their median beautification project.

The Main Street median planters need some tightening up, Master Gardener Bud Liberatore said. A couple of timers for the watering system have been ordered.

Completion of that system and spreading mulch are about the only thing left other than the addition of lamp posts, which will have hanging flower baskets.

“We basically designed a system based on what we heard from older residents,” Liberatore said. The reason past median planting projects have failed is because no one was able to care for the plants, and it’s a tough environment for the plants.

“So we put the timers on it and the drip system with the hope the that it’s automatic,” Liberatore said. The median should almost take care of itself the first eight to 10 years.

Overall the project has come in far short of the $50,000 estimate for completion. Plants and irrigation have come in at about $4,500. The Sweet Home Community Foundation is matching $3,000 in donations to the project. Overall, the project has drawn a little more than $6,000 total in donations and grants.

“We would like to continue this project,” Liberatore said. “We’d like to see it go further.”

Ideally, organizers would like to see groups sponsor a bed, purchase plants and keep it looking nice, Liberatore said. “It’s going to take a community effort for it to be sustained.”

The planting seems to be fairly successful, Liberatore said. “They’re in, and they seem to be surviving, most of them. Half a dozen don’t look like they’re going to make it.”

The original design called for some 1,400 plants, but the volunteer group planted about 1,000 plants in 12 median planters. Liberatore credited high school students for making that a success.

“Thank God for the high school kids,” he said. “When they showed up, I breathed a sigh or relief. We wouldn’t have gotten them in without them.”

Among work left on the project are the planting of some more annuals at the ends of the planters, Liberatore said. There’s some irrigation work and mulch needs to be added for weed control and to save water.

Mulching will be a major volunteer effort, Liberatore said. It will take the better part of the day. He hopes to have it complete before the summer drought season hits in full force.

“We’re hoping there’s sufficient funds left over that we can purchase one lamp post,” Liberatore said. That would launch the next phase of the project, which would include putting hanging baskets downtown and planting the concrete pots along the sidewalk, a number of which are missing. Anyone with information on the location of the missing concrete planters is asked to contact Liberatore at 367-7768 or Jean McKinney at 367-4775.

“Basically, our next plan is to continue along Main Street,” Liberatore said. The median strip between 15th and 18th avenues “could use improvement,” some kind of low ground cover, “anything but concrete or asphalt.”

As far as the lamp posts, “we’re still shopping, looking at a couple of different sources,” Liberatore said. “They’re pretty spendy items.”

An idea to have them done locally has not panned out, he said, and the median volunteer group is planning to order them.

“I think that would really improve the look of the downtown,” Liberatore said. “The plants have gone a long way already.”

Donations to the project are still being accepted through the Community Foundation.

“The project is by no means complete,” Liberatore said. “It’s going to be a long-term investment in somebody’s time. We hope this project will get people so enthused, people will come out of the woodwork improving the look of Sweet Home and their own properties.

“I’m really thankful that this community, people came out and helped. People care about each other and care about their community. That’s really a nice feeling that you can live somewhere you can feel so good about. I just feel lucky that people that have come forward to volunteer have been easy to work with.”