By JOHN HOWELL Mayor Frank Picozzi has nothing against the color blue. But he can't stand the steel blue planter boxes that line both sides of the section of Post Road that runs in front of City Hall. He wants to get rid of them and plant trees like the
Mayor Frank Picozzi has nothing against the color blue.
But he can’t stand the steel blue planter boxes that line both sides of the section of Post Road that runs in front of City Hall. He wants to get rid of them and plant trees like the ornamental pears that line West Shore Road in Conimicut.
He’s not finding it easy.
The boxes that sport dwarf trees were designed to enhance a pedestrian friendly village removed from the traffic that squeezed into Apponaug before the $71 million, five-roundabout circulator plan was completed more than four years ago. So far, the circulator hasn’t brought new businesses and people to Apponaug, although after a period of learning the etiquette of roundabouts, traffic runs smoothly most times of the day.
Picozzi finds the blue boxes obstructions to pedestrians and those in wheelchairs. The fact they are on the curb also make it difficult for people to get in and out of parked cars, he observes.
Picozzi is not alone in his objections. He said he’s had inquiries over purpose and quantity of the boxes and suggestions that they become panels for creative art works. Also, Picozzi argues if they are to be kept as tree planters then they require regular watering, and who is going to do that? He said sidewalk cutouts as has been done in Conimicut would allow trees to tap nutrients and ground water.
The mayor said the city was told the boxes belong to the federal government, since federal funds were used to build the circulator. On Tuesday, he was hoping to get some answers from DOT Director Peter Alviti this week.
In a response to an inquiry from the Beacon, DOT spokesman Charles St. Martin issued the following statement: “We agree with the mayor; there likely are better alternatives to the blue boxes from an aesthetics point of view and for the health of the plants in them. We will be working with the city to find a solution that better fits in the village. We need to get some clearances from FHWA first, as federal funds were used in construction of the circulator.” He said the boxes cost $5,000 each.
As for what was planted in the boxes, St. Martin said the small trees are Amelanchier Canadensis and Shadblow Serviceberry.