DOWNEY -- Last week's article on water conservation closed with the image of the City of Downey Green Task Force heroically arriving on the scene to rescue the Downey citizen seeking a means to conserve water while still maintaining an attractive landscape. The concept of providing a limited palette of suggested drought tolerant plants to a community accustomed to water-hungry grass lawns was the hope of this dramatic image.Unfortunately our hero did not show up. The Green Task Force failed to achieve a quorum at its scheduled meeting. This is not the first time: the Task Force has been plagued with attendance problems since it began its permanent commission in April, 2011. A committed core of citizen volunteer appointees has been hamstrung by a couple of the City Council appointed members who have helped to render the committee ineffectual by continued absences, evidently accepting their appointments merely to feather their own rÃ©sumÃ©s. One City Council member has acknowledged this problem, but for the most part, it seems that to City Council the Green Task Force is out of sight, out of mind. To be fair, it should be emphasized that Keep Downey Beautiful, less constrained than the City-Ordinance-defined Green Task Force, as well as those Task Force members and City staff who have crafted the proposed palette, have done their homework. This modest concept is ready for development, lacking merely a stamp of approval. Further, the city is moving beyond the old landscaping paradigms in a number of other ways. A striking example can be found by simply walking towards the front door of City Hall. On the right you'll see a square of lawn with a patch of impeccably manicured and brightly colored flowers in the center. On the left, adorning the police memorial honoring Officer Wayne Presley, you'll witness a starker but equally beautiful landscaping approach featuring drought tolerant plants on a bed of decomposed granite gravel. This theme is echoed at the south end of the Library, next to the Chamber of Commerce offices. Similarly, landscaping at the new La Barca expands on the same concept. Even more significantly, City Council just this past week authorized a significant revitalization of Treasure Island Park, responding not only to safety concerns, but also to the lure of a $400,000 state water conservation grant, already reported here in The Downey Patriot. The project, as described in the Staff Agenda Memo to City Council, is a veritable testament to the newest landscaping models, emphasizing drought tolerant and native plants, water-absorbing ("pervious") surfaces, reduction of fertilizers and pesticides, and improved irrigation, as well as public watershed education. This new development provides testimony to another time-honored principle: namely, money talks. And it could be argued that when State government resorts to the carrot of financial subsidy in lieu of the stick of restrictive regulation, it means they're REALLY serious about seeing things change. Meanwhile, back in Downey in our next installment we shall further investigate the value of drought tolerant and native landscaping, as well as -- at the earliest opportunity -- the Green Task Force/Keep Downey Beautiful plant palette recommendations.
********** Published: March 08, 2012 - Volume 10 - Issue 47