Not even a month after a beautification mission brought seven tree pits and more than two dozen planters to a two-block stretch of Germantown Avenue, the actions of vandals and uncaring passersby have already set the effort back.
Decorative plants have gone missing from sidewalk pots, while others have been ripped out and left on the ground. At least one business owner said he’s seen a few dog walkers allow pets to urinate on the plants, as well.
In fact, some have had to be replaced two or three times since being initially planted.
Word on the Ave.
Aine Doley, organizer of the Tree Germantown effort to maintain the plants, said the more expensive and exotic flowers — the red canna plant — were typically the ones taken. Because of the up-to-$15 price tag, they’ve often had to replace the canna with cheaper plants.
Yadira Arthur, owner of Kbello Kolors Dominican Hair Designs on Germantown Ave. near Bringhurst St., said she had similar issues when she moved in five years ago. She determined that the culprits were often children or teenagers who rip the plants out and put them in the trash.
“I’d come outside and catch them red-handed,” Arthur said. “Then, they’d get out of here.”
Ray Freeman, owner of the neighboring Drad Computers, had plants outside his business when he first opened shop 16 years ago, but gave up doing so.
Now, he said he thinks the plants are being stolen and sold for quick money.
No reports were made to police in light of the vandalistic thefts.
Tangible plans to stanch the loss have been hard to come by.
Arthur said installing cameras outside her business helped reduce plant losses. Doley thought that was a great idea, but there’s no active push for technology. The best remedy, she said, is more foot traffic on the Avenue.
“Anybody could rip them out,” Doley said. “The only thing to prevent them is more eyes.”
For his part, Freeman isn’t sure a solution exists.
“You can control the plants, but not the people,” Freeman said. “There’s a lot of good people, but there’s still bad elements here.”
The plantings will continue to be maintained, Doley said.
In fact, they’ve already drawn attention from larger organizations like the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, which recently visited the avenue to tour the plantings.
Arthur said she wouldn’t want to see the plants removed or relocated.
“I have a bunch of plants inside and everywhere,” she said. “I just love them!”