Editorial: A beauty of an effort in Concord

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Last Sunday afternoon, with the temperature in the mid-90s and the surrounding pavement shimmering in the heat, a lone volunteer, clippers in hand, worked trimming the plantings in one of the city’s roundabouts. This particular volunteer was a man, though we suspect the majority of people who care for city property as a labor of love and community service are women. All of them deserve an ice cold lemonade and a round of applause. They are making Concord a better place to live.

As of this writing, we were unable to reach the employee in the city’s parks and recreation department who keeps the official “Adopt a Spot” list. Once a volunteer or group of volunteers accepts the program’s offer to adopt a spot for two years, the city takes it off its list of properties to maintain. That means volunteers don’t just make the roadways pretty, they save taxpayers money. Even more reason for thanks.

We can’t mention, nor do we necessarily know about, all the spots under care and cultivation, nor are all spots marked with official Adopt-a-Spot signs. And although no neighborhood has a monopoly on the beautification program, the group that replants the roundabout opposite Dewey School on Centre Street so something is always in bloom deserves special praise.

Pecker Park on Mountain Road, the mini-park at the top of Gully Hill on Loudon Road and the divider strip on Washington Street where it connects with North State Street are all getting loving attention, too. The caregivers at the latter are fond of Russian sage, whose sea-green, silvery foliage and lavender blooms draw bumblebees and motorists’ glances.

Someone, thankfully, has rehabilitated the once litter-strewn strip on D’Amante Drive where, contrary to city ordinance, supplicants routinely fly signs asking for money. Thanks, too, are deserved for all those who pitch in to help improve the city’s many parks, and the groups that do the thankless and somewhat dangerous job of ridding highways of litter. (P.S. – the stretch of Liberty Street opposite Grappone Field badly needs such a group.)

Not all the spots that have been or are being planted are owned by the city, though most are portions of a city right-of-way.

We first noticed the trend on the east end of Warren Street, where residents a few years back began planting sunflowers in the berm between the sidewalk and the road. The practice spread, and it’s delightful. Sidewalk berms tend to be salt-battered strips of dirt where patchy grasses struggle to survive, but some abutters have begun planting flowers. We hope the trend spreads.

Look around. Are there publicly owned spots in your neighborhood that could use a little TLC? If so, and if you or a group are willing to provide it, please contact the parks department at 225-8690 to claim the turf.

It’s a great way to beautify the city and give New England’s beleaguered population of bees and butterflies a break.