So ... how about those downtown planters?
Last week, a Press Gazette reader wrote in to express her displeasure with members of the Milton City Council who recently voted to remove large decorative planters in downtown Milton.
Originally part of a beautification partnership between the City and Main Street Milton “for almost ten years” under the regime of City Manager Donna Adams, the flowerpots were purchased as a long-term investment, said Vernon Compton, secretary and design chairperson of MSM.
But recently when the Milton City Council voted to remove the pots, Compton said no one from MSM was invited to be at the council meeting.
“We weren’t even aware the pots were being talked about,” Compton said. “We could not say, ‘What can we do to make them better?’ It is such a waste to make them go away.”
City Manager Brian Watkins said the decision made by the council has to do more with an effort to “Revamp downtown — the whole thing, make it more coordinated.”
Though Watkins said there is no specific plan set forth, he said city officials are leaning toward a more colorful setting. He said tentative plans include clearing out the medians to put in plants with more color along U.S. 90 between Dogwood Drive and Stewart Street.
Watkins said the funding for the changes city officials are considering will come from Community Revitalization Area funds.
Despite explanations on both sides, some in the community feel city officials are harboring ill feelings toward MSM and its members.
In a letter to the editor, published in the Dec. 26 edition of the Press Gazette, Susan Beasley expresses her support in keeping the flowerpots in place and notes, “As much as I hate to think this is true, it appears that this action is another chapter in an ongoing personal vendetta against the members of Main Street Milton. I am increasingly disappointed to see this kind of petty behavior on the part of so many people I have admired and respected since I was a child.”
Compton said MSM exists to work with city officials, not against them. He said the pots are concrete, not terra cotta as they appear, making them a lasting investment. He said a day already had been set aside utilizing volunteers to work on painting the pots. Some are complete.
“We were going to put in winter/spring plants like snap dragons, pansies, ornamental cabbage,” he said. “There is always a transition period when the summer and fall plants freeze; it does look bad until the new ones come in.
“In the past, it was several agencies working together, like the Milton Garden Club, Clean Community System, even business owners who help us water the plans. We depend on volunteers ... but (city council members) decided they wanted to go a different way.
“When I spoke, I reiterated that we wanted to continue this partnership with the city, save taxpayers dollars. But the mayor said at the time it didn’t fit into the city plan anymore.”
Compton said he fears feuding between the city and community organizations might be preventing business owners from considering the downtown Milton area.
“(Some people) may say, ‘We aren’t going to put a business down there because the city and these groups are fighting.’
“You can disagree on things, organizations and community leaders, but you know, there is so much to find common ground and work together. There is no reason not to work with the community on something like the downtown beautification project.”