The downtown traffic islands installed two years ago during the Michigan Avenue reconstruction project will take on new life this summer, as the city recently approved a request from A&H Lawn Service to voluntarily plant and maintain the incorporated flower beds.
The unanimous vote by city council trustees came at last Monday night’s meeting, where City Manager Todd Campbell told of A&H President Tim Austin approaching him several months prior with an offer to install, and provide ongoing care for a more vibrant and colorful assortment of flora.
“The current plantings that are there are low maintenance for a reason,” Campbell said, citing financial and labor concerns.
The refreshed arrangements provided by A&H will come at no cost to the city, according to Campbell, beyond setting up safety measures such as traffic arrows while planting crews are working.
“It is certainly, from my perspective, a terrific partnership (with) a community business and somebody who wants to give back,” he said.
Campbell said he forwarded the offer to the Saline Main Street organization, which also gave cheerful approval.
As a landscaper for many years, Austin said he knows just how much pleasant floral arraignments can brighten up a city, as well as the faces of those who live there.
“This kind of falls underneath our umbrella of ‘love where you live’ mentality,” he said. “We put a lot of miles on Michigan Avenue and looking at those islands last year we weren’t that impressed with them and looking at them right now we’re not really that impressed with them and we think that we can do a lot better.”
Campbell mentioned that Austin never sought to include any kind of promotional signage for A&H as part of the deal. His intention, Campbell said, came across as genuine in simply trying to make things a bit nicer for travelers on Michigan Avenue.
Austin and his team are very familiar with commercial planting, and he said the floral arrangements will be created to tolerate extreme conditions along Michigan Avenue, such as full sun.
He told trustees he and colleagues plan to fix the flower beds promptly in the event of any damage.
“We want it to look good, too, so we’re going to take care of it,” he said, suggesting watering won’t be an issue, provided the installed irrigation system is working properly.
After Austin and a colleague satisfied all the inquiries from trustees, several expressed their gratitude for A&H’s generous offer.
Christen Mitchell called it “a wonderful gift to the community.”
Austin is also president of the Saline Area Schools Board of Education.