Power behind flower plea

It appears Fredonia residents and organizations truly enjoy seeing the beauty of the downtown hanging flower baskets – so much so that they are adopting them as their own.

Mayor Stephen Keefe’s villagewide plea in a Wednesday OBSERVER article to have about 40 planters adopted by the community immediately began bearing results. The mayor informed the OBSERVER the village is selling “a lot” of baskets; 25 have already sold, as of Thursday afternoon.

“A lot of people have called about the baskets, as well,” Keefe said. “By the time I got to my office (Wednesday) morning, my phone’s message inbox was full and checks were already on my desk for the flowers. We still have a ways to go, but I got another five (sold on Thursday).”

Keefe added volunteers, including himself, will help water the baskets throughout the summer. He is hopeful to start getting them up by Memorial Day.

“I’m very impressed so many people care so much about how the village looks. It’s greatly appreciated, all the help and support we’re getting on this,” he said.

Keefe recalled one woman visited him in his village office asking to make a donation, and committed to buying two planters instead of just one when Keefe explained the pricing.

“I had another family who purchased four planters,” he said. “That is absolutely wonderful and encouraging. People really do see the value in having these flowers around the village.”

One planter costs $82, but donations in all amounts are being accepted. Checks may be made payable to the village of Fredonia, with “flowers” written in the memo/note line.

Those interested in adopting a basket can call Village Hall during business hours at 679-2307 or Keefe’s village office at 679-2301.

“When you enter the village, those flowers and baskets are your first impression of the area in the summer,” former Pomfret Town councilwoman Patricia Lynch Christina, who dedicated part of her time in office to planting and taking care of the flowers outside the town hall, said in a phone interview. “It reminds people the residents in this community care about aesthetics; they care about the area looking attractive, and I think that’s critical.”

Christina added Route 20 is a major highway for out-of-towners that goes straight through the heart of Fredonia. The village’s flowers are seen by these people, giving them an initial impression of the area’s identity and its residents.

Keefe made his plea to the community after the Fredonia Village Board adopted a 2014-15 budget that slashed the entire $5,000 allotted for flowers.

“My fear is if you allow your downtown area to decline in appearance, the morale and attitude will decline, and that’s a bad combination,” he stated in his plea. “We cannot appear like a lost community.”

The Fredonia Rotary Club already committed to purchasing and planting the ground-level flowers at Barker Common, the Houghton Street park and around Village Hall and the Civil War memorial at Pioneer Cemetery.

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