Oak Park planters make people smile

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KATHARINE GRAYSON

Over the past three years, the colorful planters springing up across the Village of Oak Park's 12 business districts have cost approximately $50,000 and may cost up to $40,000 more over the next two years. Yet despite the hefty price tag, an informal survey reveals that Oak Park residents think the floral additions are worth the funding.  
"I think they're worth it," said Oak Parker Tami Coty, who is herself an avid gardener and a frequent garden consultant. "I love what they've done in Chicago, and I think [the planters] add some class to Oak Park."
However, some community members say the planters may look nice but are over-priced.
"They're probably not worth the money, but I've seen the village spend money on stupider things," said resident Sarah Coffey.
David Powers, communications director for the Village of Oak Park, said the village has put in 250 planters so far and will be adding 250 more over the next two years. He said the planters come in five different sizes and styles and added that some business districts have been involved in picking their pots.
"Some districts are more active in deciding where they want planters to go and what kind of flowers they want," he said. "But the idea is that there would be year-round plantings that would vary by season."
The planting efforts are part of the Keep Oak Park Beautiful program, and Powers said although he did not know the specific additional cost of future planter maintenance, he said the money will be taken from the village's $330,000 landscaping budget. 
Powers added that the overall purpose of the planters is to spruce up the look of the community.
"This is an opportunity to beautify the village and improve the aesthetics of the business districts," he said. "Everybody likes to see flowers and greenery."
However, Powers denied that the planters are modeled after the City of Chicago's successful beautification project.
"It's more part of the growing awareness in municipalities throughout the country that landscaping improves the overall look of the community," he said.

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