Flower power spreads from downtown to the boardwalk

The boardwalk in Bremerton got a lot more color last week as city crews transported about half of the hanging flower baskets from Pacific Avenue and re-hung them on the waterfront.

Bremerton Parks Director Wyn Birkenthal noted that there has long been discussions about getting the popular hanging baskets in more areas of town besides just the downtown core, but expanding the popular program has proven to be cost prohibitive in recent years. His most recent firm figures, from 2008, show that his department spends about $17,000 on the program annually.

Birkenthal said that efforts to get the baskets in more areas this year began as soon as they went up a few months ago. City council members, eventual council candidates and other members of the public have all petitioned the city to spread out the baskets.

It was permit applications to start running the popular Rock the Dock series on Friday nights on the boardwalk that finally made spreading out the baskets a reality.

“It had started to get popular again and we wanted to liven it up,” Birkenthal said.

It was the return of those concerts, combined with the increased size of the baskets after four months of watering and sunshine, that made the move a reality.

“The mayor and others said, how do you think it would look, since they got really big, to put one on each arm (of the utility poles) and put some on boardwalk?” Birkenthal said. “When they were first put out there (on Pacific Avenue), it would have looked less than complete to have just one on each arm. But, since they’ve tripled in size, it actually looks good to have one on each arm.”

Birkenthal instructed crews to leave at least one basket on each Pacific Avenue Pole and transport the second one to the boardwalk. For a brief time on Wednesday, though, about a block of Pacific was barren of any baskets as Birkenthal happened to be walking by, he said.

“I called the crew supervisor and said that really wasn’t the plan, we don’t want to have an interruption in the flower baskets, so let’s get them back up there,” he added.

Birkenthal said that the city buys the flowers at discount from a firm in Oregon. The city saves money by propagating them in greenhouses here in Bremerton and can “build” a basket for about $80 total. It’s when you add in the cost of watering and labor that the price tag starts to rise. The city used to use part-time labor for the job, but Birkenthal says more experience is required.

“They’ve got to be good to get in and out of traffic and not take out any mirrors or cause any other damage or delays,” he said, noting that an experienced person is needed for that job about six months of the year.


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