Village Seeks Volunteers to Keep Shrubs Pesticide-Free
Think you might want to "adopt" a shrub in a Whitefish Bay park or other open area? The Environmental Advisory Commission wants to hear from you.
With some residents concerned about the spraying of pesticides in village shrub beds, the Environmental Advisory Commission is seeking volunteers to take over the responsibility of weeding and maintaining the shrubs without using chemicals.
The commission is hoping to find volunteers to participate in a possible Friends of Whitefish Bay Parks and Green Spaces group, which would be responsible for “adopting” shrubs or portions of park and green spaces to weed and maintain through natural lawn care methods.
Last month, the Village Board approved a revised natural lawn care program that would eliminate pesticides in most parks by aerating, spraying compost tea and adding Milorganite and other nutrients to the soil in Buckley, Cahill, Klode and Schoolhouse Parks.
The lawn care program approved by the board shaved $1,600 from the plan originally proposed by the commission. In a memo, Assistant Village Manager Matt Schuenke recommended less-costly annual herbicide application to all medians, shrub beds, green spaces around facilities and other right of way areas. Silver Spring Park is also scheduled for an annual herbicide spraying.
“The investment of natural turf care methods in areas that are generally not usable for recreational purposes or infrequently traveled does not prove financially viable in light of our current and future budgetary needs,” Schuenke stated in the memo.
At that time, village officials were expecting a $300,000 cut in state aid in 2012, with only roughly one-third of those revenue losses offset by savings through employee concessions on benefits.
Some residents were upset when village public works crews sprayed herbicides in the shrub beds at Klode and Cahill a couple weeks ago. Shrub beds and landscaping areas are the only areas set for herbicide application this summer. The other green spaces are scheduled to be sprayed in the fall.
Commission Secretary Melanie Ariens said the commission hopes volunteers will help alleviate the village's financial constraints by taking up natural lawn care efforts in those shrub beds and other green spaces currently slated for herbicide application.
She said adopting a green space would be a great opportunity for local families or scout troops to get involved.
“We want it to be a fun, positive thing for people to participate in and a way for people to get involved in the community,” she said.
The use of pesticides in public parks has been discussed at Village Hall for the past four years, culminating in 2010 with village residents protesting the use of pesticides in the parks before the Village Board. As a pilot program, the board agreed not to spray pesticides on Cahill and Klode Parks last summer, and budgeted $20,000 this year for a pesticide-free turf care program this year, meaning no new funds were levied this year.
Anyone interested in volunteering to "adopt" a portion of green space can contact Ariens at 964-9813.