Westminster's Flower Power

December 17, 1993

Westminster's city government deserves congratulations: It may have recovered the state's offer to landscape the Route 140 median strip after the Carroll County commissioners nearly fumbled away the project.

City officials realized the folly of spurning $100,000 of bushes and trees because there might be some maintenance costs involved. The commissioners' rejection of the offer was akin to someone forfeiting a Lotto jackpot because the winnings are taxed.

Although city officials can reap considerable political benefits from this sensible action, the council took up the State Highway Administration's offer because it is in keeping with Westminster's past beautification efforts. City officials ironically were willing to pay for half the maintenance costs had the county accepted the state landscaping, but the commissioners rejected the state's offer before city officials even could make theirs.

Westminster has had an active and effective tree preservation and planting program. Thanks to the vigilant efforts of citizens and officials, the current reconstruction of East Main Street will not only preserve existing trees but add more. It makes sense, therefore, for city officials to want to beautify the major thoroughfare into the city.

People who are unable to see the benefits of this effort ought to note the remarks of Councilman Stephen R. Chapin at the last council meeting. Mr. Chapin, a no-nonsense, bottom-line oriented person, pointed out beautification has tangible pecuniary benefits. Economic development experts, Mr. Chapin noted, advise communities seeking new businesses to spruce up their appearance in order to attract new investment.

People who argue that spending $100,000 on plantings is an extravagance and that the commissioners showed good judgment in turning down the state's offer display a profound misunderstanding of state budget realities. The money is designated for roadside landscaping. If it isn't spent in Carroll, it will be spent elsewhere.

The chances are quite good that the State Highway Administration will follow through with its offer due to Westminster's record of creative street landscaping. Regardless of which government entity accepts the plantings, residents and visitors who travel Route 140 will be the real beneficiaries.

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