The Town of Gibraltar proposed defunding a portion of the flower budget that goes toward planting marigolds along the Hwy. 42 corridor at a budget workshop on Oct. 18. At the regular town board meeting on Nov. 1, they will reconsider.
“There was such an uproar that we decided to put it on the agenda,” said town chairman Dick Skare.
Town board members have cited maintenance, safety and the desire for wider sidewalks as reasons for ending the marigold tradition.
“I’ve been fighting to keep the marigolds for a long time because I know a lot of people want them,” said Brian Hackbarth, town board member and chair of the Parks and Lands Committee.
The town spends $2,700 annually on the marigold planting, which does not include wages for the approximately five town employees who plant them every year. The total budget for flower plantings in the town is $4,200 and the board recommended on a split vote to reduce that line item by $1,000.
“We’re reducing, we’re not cancelling it,” said Dick Skare, town chairman. Skare said the discussion was strictly related to the budget, and not a product of the upcoming highway project.
“My issue was making walkways more comfortable particularly with the changes in the beach, that we need wider sidewalks,” said board member Barb McKesson. “I had no idea that [town residents] are so attached to them.”
McKesson said she will support continued funding of the marigolds after hearing from constituents.
The marigolds started in the early 1970s, when the town left a gap between sidewalk and the newly constructed curb. For many years, volunteers planted them in May or early June, but Hackbarth said in the last few years it has been left to the maintenance department.