A Focus on Landscaping Monroe's High Visibility Areas

Parks & Recreation Dir. Frank Cooper says parks, greens and grounds in areas of town with the most traffic 'should look like something you would be proud for people to see.'

Robert McFarland's straw hat shielded him from the bright sun one day last week as he raked debris away from a circle of yellow daffodils on the historic Stepney Green. A few feet away, fellow Parks & Recreation employee John Bevis shoveled around a small tree and heaved the dirt into the back of a town truck.

Supervisor, Russell Tice, said his small crew was cleaning up the debris and edging around the plantings on the green, adding the next job would include seeding and mulching.

Joel Leneker and Lee Hossler of the Save Our Stepney Task Force (SOS) are excited by Parks & Recreation Dir. Frank Cooper's efforts to beautify the green on their side of town.

"The daffodils are spectacular this year," Leneker told Cooper in an email. "I hope we can keep all of them and add tons more around the gazebo on the green."

SOS had planted the daffodils, but Leneker is grateful to Parks & Recreation for maintaining the plantings.

Hossler says Connecticut Department of Transportation statistics show that over 20,000 vehicles pass through the intersection of routes 25 and 59 every day.

"This is by far the busiest area in Monroe," he said. "Of course the Stepney Green is in this section of Route 25."

During an interview in his Monroe Town Hall office, Cooper said, "We're focusing greater attention on high visibility areas. It should look like something you would be proud for people to see."

Of Stepney Green, Cooper said, "I think it's owed a lot more attention at this point and we want to improve its appearance."

Maintaining Town Properties

Outside town hall, yellow tape cordoned off an area alongside a section of sidewalk where grass seed had been planted. Cooper said work crews are seeding barren areas and over-seeding others to thicken the grass.

The Parks & Recreation Department is well known for maintaining Wolfe Park and its Great Hollow Lake section, but Cooper says his crews do so much more than that.

"We have to take care of town properties," he said. "During the winter it's snow removal on sidewalks and parking lots. What we're responsible for, in general, is the senior center, town hall, the library and the police department."

Cooper said his crews also mow the grass at The Beardsley Homestead on Great Ring Road and on traffic triangles such as the one at the corner where Elm Street meets Fan Hill and Turkey Roost roads.

The Board of Finance had asked if the Parks & Recreation Department can also manage the grass areas around some of the town-owned firehouses, according to Cooper.

"We don't have the manpower for that, but if they increase it [we can] look into that," he said.

During the budget workshops this year, Cooper said he tried to educate Town Council and Board of Finance members as to exactly what Park & Rec.'s responsibilities are.

"I want them to understand what our responsibilities are — and I think they do," he said.

A Master Gardener

Last week, Cooper was interviewing candidates for a part-time, seasonal master gardener position, which he said will be paid for through existing part-time wages.

"The job is to plan, manage and maintain gardens that are on town property," Cooper said.

He said the Agricultural Station in Bethel had put out a notice of the Monroe job listing to people in its Master Gardener program.

"I've gotten 10 people calling or emailing about the position already," Cooper said with a smile, adding a woman was waiting outside his office for her interview at that very moment.

christine April 30, 2013 at 11:50 AM
Maybe Monroe's underpaid librarians should apply for this position.
John Holmes April 30, 2013 at 11:56 AM
They'd be better off updating the properties on that stretch. The Bart Center needs to be torn down, for starters.
Crown Royal April 30, 2013 at 01:10 PM
I certainly do not think it needs to be torn town. It could use some updating, similar to what they did across town at the corner of cross hill and 111, would be nice.
Nancy B. April 30, 2013 at 01:27 PM
Wow....really? Bart Center torn down? You are aware that the owner passed away last year and that probate takes a while. You know what John.....why don't you buy it and referbish it? Make the Estate an offer it can't refuse.
Joel Leneker April 30, 2013 at 02:55 PM
John: When was the last time you volunteered to help beautify the town? And since when do you have an qualifications to suggest private property to be "torn down"? I hope you support the businesses located on that property.
Bullmastiff April 30, 2013 at 10:42 PM
Looks great - Thank you!!! Are there plans to beautify the "Welcome to Monroe" signage/areas as you enter the town from, Newtown, Trumbull, Easton, etc.? First impressions are lasting!
John Holmes April 30, 2013 at 10:47 PM
You guys sound like a bunch of selfish a$$ Reliblicans. The Bart Center needs to be torn down and it's not your $$$$, go buy another BMW jerks
Joel Leneker April 30, 2013 at 11:25 PM
John, John, John: You know we don't drive BMW's. and we probably all support Stepney Hardware, the Donut Inn, the barber shop, and the Florist on occasions. Give these businesses a try you will be very pleased with their offerings. If they tear down Bart Center, where will they go? And don't forget they pay taxes to support your schools and town hall.
Crown Royal May 01, 2013 at 01:19 PM
I love Stepney Hardware and it has been in there for more than 60 years! I always choose to support them first rather than HD.
Crown Royal May 01, 2013 at 01:20 PM
Hopefully the comment will be deleted. using masked swear words is a violation of the Patch ToS
QWERTY May 01, 2013 at 03:12 PM
I hope "High Visibility Areas" includes all the "For Lease" and "For Sale" signs on rt. 111. How many thousands of people drive by this area on a daily basis?
Alex May 01, 2013 at 04:58 PM
Someone is a bit testy. I'm not a Republican (or Reliblican?) and neither can I afford 1 BMW let alone "another". If I could afford even 1 BMW I wouldn't be nearly as resistant to the budget increases. As for the Bart Center? Sure it's a bit out of date, but that's no reason to tear it down. A lot of the local businesses in there are great for our community.
Liz Wile May 02, 2013 at 01:53 AM
Drove by today...nice job SOS, it looks beautiful!!!


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