By Amanda Ensinger
Leaders from Franklin Township and Friends of the Hilltop have questioned the beautification efforts by Prairie Township in relation to the medians on West Broad Street.
At a recent trustees meeting, the board and Friends of the Hilltop Operations Manager Bill Huffman discussed the investment in landscaping Prairie Township is doing on West Broad Street.
“Prairie Township is investing a lot of money in wild grass and flowers and that is a mistake,” said Don Cook, Franklin Township trustee. “They are going to have a huge maintenance problem on their hands.”
Prairie Township is working with The Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) on the project and has invested $400,000 in improving the West Broad Street streetscape. ODOT will pay 80 percent of the cost and Prairie Township will cover 20 percent.
As part of this collaboration, Prairie Township will have landscaping in the medians, something Franklin Township knows all about.
A few years ago, Franklin Township partnered with ODOT on a similar project on West Broad Street and the Georgesville Road corridor. During this project, the township invested thousands of dollars in landscaping the medians. A few months after this landscaping was installed, it died.
“They were warned about putting plants in these medians, but they didn’t listen,” Huffman said. “They will see what happens to those plants.”
According to Prairie Township Administrator Tracy Hatmaker, the township has already taken steps to protect their investment. A few of these steps include installing an irrigation system and ensuring they have salt tolerant plants that would survive during the winter.
Franklin Township didn’t take any of these steps.
However, Franklin Township officials question this irrigation system and the types of the plants they have selected.
“I’m not sure about the irrigation system they put in will actually work,” said Jim Stevens, Franklin Township road superintendent.
Huffman said Prairie Township asked for their advice when moving forward with installing landscaping in the medians, including what plants would thrive in this type of environment.
“The plants they have to have in those medians must be able to withstand heavy amounts of salt,” Huffman said. “I question how salt tolerant the plants they selected really are.”
Hatmaker said the township also has taken steps to ensure the upkeep of the medians, something Franklin Township did not do. The Franklin Township trustees refused to sign a maintenance agreement with ODOT for the medians, citing that they didn’t agree with the terms.
“We have funding though a JEDZ to maintain the streetscape landscaping,” Hatmaker said. “We also have taken substantial steps to ensure the weeds are controlled and the plants thrive in this environment.”
The Franklin Township trustees and Friends of the Hilltop did acknowledge that Prairie Township is ahead of the curve in this respect.
“They will have people out there every day checking the flowers and plants and maintaining the property. Franklin Township didn’t do this,” Huffman said. “They have even discussed hiring college students to do this, which would be cost effective on their end.”
Cook added, “They have a JEDZ, so they can do these things. If we had a JEDZ, we could buy flowers and pay for upkeep too, but we don’t.”
Our residents and business owners deserve better and I will Guarantee Broad St west of 270 will never look like what the east side of 270 looked like all of last summer. In my opinion there is no excuse for Franklin Township letting medians get to the condition they were in all of last year. Steve Kennedy Prairie Township Trustee