Volunteers brighten Main Street bridge

Published 2:36 pm Thursday, June 1, 2006

By By ANDY HAMILTON / Niles Daily Star
NILES - This project won't die.
The Main Street Bridge in downtown Niles will be the Niles Bloomin' Bridge once again.
Many of the planters that line the bridge have been vandalized, including more than a dozen that were removed and tossed over the bridge in early January.
Director of Niles Main Street Lisa Croteau said 18 planters were damaged over the last holiday break as a result of vandalism. Croteau believes the planters were shaken long enough, and with enough force, to cause the screws to break through their holes in the metal straps.
Shortly after the incident, Croteau was offering a $100 reward for information relating to the missing planters.
The planters are made of PVC pipe six inches in diameter, with the tops of the pipes cut open. The hollowed out space is used to plant petunias and other types of flowers each spring.
The planters are attached to the bridge with two metal straps on each end. Each strap is lined with holes that, when attached with a screw, grasp the rails of the bridge along the walkway.
There were 92 planters when the project originally started three years ago and Croteau said 88 planters were used last year.
A group of volunteers began planting Wednesday morning in the 34 planters that remain on the bridge. Those left over have been cleaned out and re-arranged so an equal number of planters are on each side.
Five other volunteers joined Croteau to plant the material, which was donated by God's Green Earth in Niles. The group was using red, white and blue petunias, as well as asparagus ferns.
Chickie Landgraf, who was out planting with her daughter, Jessica, said the petunias and ferns were picked because they all have similar watering requirements, and, the asparagus ferns are very “drought tolerant.” One of last year's choices, a white flowering plant called a bacopa, did not get enough water and barely flowered, Landgraf said.
Each planter is available for sponsorship for $40. Croteau said whoever makes the purchase will get a small sticker on the planter with their name or the name of their business.
The funds collected from sponsorships will go right back toward covering the cost of purchasing the plants and paying Maac Property Services to water and fertilize the planters once a week.
Anyone who wishes to sponsor a planter on the Niles Bloomin' Bridge can contact Lisa Croteau at 687-4332, or stop in at the Niles Main Street office at 210 E. Main St.