The recently installed light pole flower baskets have been a target for vandalism, but officials are optimistic the project won't die on the vine.
On the morning of Sunday, Sept. 4, Pastry Art owner Chip Beeman arrived at his business and discovered a scene of destruction along Main Street.
Overnight, on two blocks of Main Street, someone ripped the flowers out of baskets attached to the light poles.
“I personally replanted everything along the 1500 block and cleaned up, but somebody walked by every one of them and pulled them out all the way down,” Beeman said at the Sept. 6 Downtown Improvement District meeting.
OK, it might not be the most gruesome crime scene in the world. The flowers were replanted, but the incident is indicative of an early issue for the Downtown in Bloom project, a $431,000 investment from the DID.
Project contractor Plant Parents reported an expense of $570.50 for plants vandalized from August to Sept. 6.
”We had one report that a person on the street pulled a potato vine because he thought he could grow sweet potatoes,” DID Operations Manager John Moran said. “A person walks down the street and wants to give his girlfriend a flower. There are all kinds of reasons — or just wanting to do pure damage.”
Moran said the group expected some vandalism, and Plant Parents owner David Glosser thinks the damage can be covered with money set aside to replace the flowers four times each year. The DID has budgeted more than $44,000 annually through 2019 for flower replacement.
Glosser said the damage was limited largely to the 1400 block of Main Street, which includes bars such as Smokin’ Joe’s and Gator Club. He said the vandalism was already beginning to die down, and expressed optimism that it would continue to subside as the novelty of the flower baskets faded.
“It’s starting to go away,” Glosser said. “I don’t think it’s going to be a really big factor.”
Despite the early issues, the DID remains confident in the value of the Downtown in Bloom project.
“I haven’t had one person tell me they didn’t like them,” board member Ron Soto said. “Everybody raves about them.”