Designs by Ilde, a landscaping company out of Middlebury, will plant flowers, ornamental trees and shrubs on the historic Stepney Green at the intersections of Main, Pepper and Green streets on Friday morning. The beautification is part of the Connecticut Department of Transportation's intersection improvement projects along Route 25.
On Thursday morning, Charles Murad, a project engineer with the state, and Ilde Szot, owner of Designs by Ilde, spread out a map inside the gazebo on the green to go over placement of the plantings with local officials.
Among those in attendance where First Selectman Steve Vavrek, State Rep. DebraLee Hovey (R-112th), Town Land Use Dir. Scott Schatzlein and Joel Leneker, president of Save Our Stepney. Rev. Kevin Merritt, senior pastor of Stepney Baptist Church across the street, also walked over.
"We're here to talk about your plantings," Murad said Thursday. "We're planning on doing this tomorrow, as soon as we have this staked out."
DOT officials walked the property with town leaders and made markings in the grass to show where to put plants in the ground.
Szot said Murad had a 36-inch bit and would drill the holes for the plantings, drilling down and pulling up the soil so it would be a perfect ring. Prior to doing the work, she said the DOT had to check with the utility companies to ensure no wires or pipes would be ruptured.
The plantings include eight decorative pear trees (chanticlear), one sugar maple (acer saccharun), eight ilex glabra compacta, 20 hemerocallis and 98 juniperus wiltoni, according to Szot.
Leneker said, "Pear trees are white flowering trees. They'll be beautiful in the spring."
Stepney Baptist Church will be landscaping its own grounds in the coming week and Rev. Merritt believes the beautification of the green will provide a nice complement.
"This area will really be a showstopper," he said. "This Stepney Green is a real destination in the town."
A Team Effort
Schatzlein said the DOT had input from the Planning & Zoning Commission, the first selectman and Rep. Hovey when designing the landscaping plan for Stepney Green.
Hovey said, "This team from DOT has worked so closely with this town. That idea of state government as a bureaucracy that can't be worked with is not the story at all in Monroe."
Vavrek said, "The fact that they're willing to work with us is a credit to DebraLee, Scott [Schatzlein] and my office for working together to make it another town gem. That's the way government should be."
In addition to working closely with elected officials, Hovey said the DOT also spoke to surrounding businesses and Stepney Baptist Church throughout the process.
Rev. Merritt said, "This is definitely a big plus for the church. We've been thrilled with the attention we've received from the state, especially from Chuck Murad. They've really bent over backwards to make sure we're not inconvenienced."