Council asked to tend to public gardens, or renew committee to do maintenance

by Geoff Fox

Former Mayor Dan Murphy addressed town officials during the April town meeting about the care of the flower beds along Main Street in Hancock.

Over the years, the town has had a parks committee that would take care of the flower beds, but the people on the board have aged themselves out of being able to physically care for them.

Murphy said Main Street is a gateway through Hancock and is something to be proud of.

“I’m concerned about the plants that grow along the sidewalk not being tended to properly,” Murphy said.

He noted he’s been before town officials three times in three different years since the parks committee “aged out.” The committee was made up of “four or five women who did a heck of a job” maintaining the flower beds.

Volunteers have also taken care of various flower beds along the road and business owners taking care of the ones in front of their business.

Murphy said having neglected or empty buildings in several places made that approach difficult.

Murphy noted it wasn’t town officials’ strong point to notice the weeds, and the beds need tended to weekly.

For two years, there was a volunteer who led Public Works and the inmates on how to weed the flower beds but that ended due to health reasons.

Mayor Roland Lanehart, Jr. told Murphy with all the rain recently, it’s more important to have those crews mowing than working in the flower beds.

Murphy said he was lucky to have the volunteers for the flower beds and the current town officials don’t have those volunteers to take care of the flower beds.

“Is it time to hire somebody, part-time, that maintains those flower beds for us?” Murphy asked.

Before the committee aged out, Murphy said the committee chose to plant perennials, many of which were the Maryland state flower, the Black Eyed Susan.

“It’s not like every spring you got to go in and plant every one of them, but the weeds take over everything that’s been done,” he said.

Murphy said he knows the flower beds aren’t being taken care of because there are other priorities to be done.

Lanehart noted Public Work crews were busy mowing and Murphy understood that, but there needs to be someone mowing grass and taking care of the flower beds in town.

“I wish we find a way to make that work other than the volunteer pool that isn’t out there anymore,” Murphy said.

Lanehart said hiring someone also means paying workman’s comp, covering liability and other concerns.

Town Manager Mike Faith told Murphy he put a call out for people to adopt a flower bed to take care of and those people were to start this past weekend.

Faith said they would be taking care of two.

“That’s out of about seven that are in need,” Murphy said.

Lanehart said the grass at Kirkwood Park was need of being mowed because the kids couldn’t play on the playground equipment because the grass was too high.

“As long as there’s a plan in place that you can, at the end of the growing season, say it worked,” Murphy said as people have talked to him and others about the flower beds.

Last week, in the days after the meeting, Faith said the town’s crews went in and cleaned out and mulched the flower beds along Main Street.

“It does look a lot nicer,” he said.

There are a few local groups who maintain their flower beds, so the ones that weren’t being maintained, the town came in and took care of them.

If people wanted to maintain or adopt a flower bed, Faith said the town would certainly allow them to do so.

“The town would pay for the cost of the plantings if they want to do that,” he said.

Anyone interested can contact Town Hall at 301-678-5622.