October 20, 2014

Elyria
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Harsh weather claims rose bushes along Route 57

Rose bushes were chopped down by Elyria city crews on Monday along state Route 57 between East Broad Street and Chestnut Ridge Road in Elyria. STEVE MANHEIM/CHRONICLE

Rose bushes were chopped down by Elyria city crews on Monday along state Route 57 between East Broad Street and Chestnut Ridge Road in Elyria. STEVE MANHEIM/CHRONICLE

ELYRIA — Five years ago, a seasoned landscape professional predicted the rose bushes and perennials planted along state Route 57 would not survive long with the hot, blazing summers and cold, brutal winters of this region.

This week, that prediction became reality as city crews cut away many of the plants, which cost upwards of $500,000 of the total $22 million Route 57 reconstruction project.

Nearly 95 percent of the plants have died since they were planted in 2009.

Safety Service Director Mary Siwierka said the clearing was done under the advisement of a landscape professional and Street Department Manager Scott Payne, who has a horticulture degree from Ohio State University.

The big cut started with a plan to clear the massive overgrowth of weeds that choked the life out of the plants.

“We had Schill Grounds Management (with offices in North Ridgeville, Sheffield and Strongsville) professionally apply weed retardant in mid-July to kill the thistle weed,” Siwierka said. “Our crews only went in after that was done.”

Thistle weed is an aggressive plant that can grow 15 feet deep into the ground and waist high. Its pink flowers with prickly leaves are a dead giveaway that it has taken root. The only way to get rid of it is an aggressive treatment with a chemical weed killer, she said.

Jerry Schill, president of Schill Grounds Management, said in an email to the city that the perennials were not going to survive.

“It is obvious after the cleanup that the roses and juniper are not worth saving,” he said in the correspondence dated July 3. “We recommend brush cutting or flush cut and chipping. The grasses and daylilies have pushed back out nicely.”

Workers from Down To Earth Landscaping in Garfield Heights cover rose bushes to protect them from winter weather on state Route 57 near Chestnut Ridge Road in December 2009.  CHRONICLE FILE PHOTO

Workers from Down To Earth Landscaping in Garfield Heights cover rose bushes to protect them from winter weather on state Route 57 near Chestnut Ridge Road in December 2009. CHRONICLE FILE PHOTO

Siwierka said 95 percent of the juniper plants and roses died from salt exposure.

“These were not plants that should have been put there in the first place,” she said. “It was a combination of plant material, how the beds were prepared and the harsh weather that did this. Maybe now we can give what is left the best chance of survival.”

There are a few rose bushes and daylilies left along the thoroughfare. The city will see in early spring whether any of the landscaping will come back, Siwierka said.

For now, city crews will continue to mow the grass as needed.

“We chose the most methodical approach to getting rid of the weeds and making the medians look better at minimal cost,” Siwierka said.

When the Route 57 project was wrapping up in 2009, the main consultant, CT Consultants, of Mentor, defended the plant choices. At that time, consultants said they were reviewed by the Federal Highway Administration and Ohio Department of Transportation, which has guidelines on where plants and trees can be placed along a road.

The federal and state agencies provided the bulk of funding for the reconstruction project.

Contact Lisa Roberson at 329-7121 or lroberson@chroniclet.com. Follow her on Twitter @LisaRobersonCT.


  • Stan K

    This is probably why ex mayor Bill Grace is no longer a political threat anywhere.One bad decision after another.

  • Sis Delish

    This would be an appropriate photo opportunity for Bill Grace… And, come to think of it, a wonderful new biggest challenge for his successor to raise $40k for something.

  • oldruss

    All those poor little rose bushes, who’d never harmed anyone, heartlessly planted in that median strip, and left to die from “harsh weather” (like nobody knew Ohio’s weather was harsh), and also from the road salt that the crews have to dump on the road during the winter. And, don’t forget all those juniper and other perernials too, that were all allowed to die needlessly, getting choked out by massive weed growths. Neglect shown by those who planted these innocent bushes and flowers is just plain wrong.

  • taxpayer89

    There will be a vigil tonight at 7 if anyone would like to mourn the loss of those roses.

  • Otter

    I don’t have a horticulture degree, and I am by no means a landscaping expert, but even I knew what a bad idea that was….A colossal waste of money, to put in, and now to remove.

  • SniperFire

    At least they won’t be killed by those break away light posts as cars knock them down.

  • golfingirl

    Grass seed would have cost a couple thousand….and would still be alive.

    • Phil Blank

      Then you have to cut it.
      just concrete or blacktop the medium, or just gravel or stone with a weed block under it.
      Then in another 5 or 7 years, redo yhe whole road, again, and again and again, just like past times its been done cause the stupid engineering just can’t figure it out.

  • Sis Delish

    PETR is furious!
    (People for the Ethical Treatment of Roses)

    • tickmeoff

      Ha!Ha! That’s hilarious!

  • Brian_Reinhardt

    It wasn’t just Grace that was responsible for the irresponsible placement of those roses in the median. A “government” official had to suggest it, another had to plan it, and it had to be approved by “government” incompetents all along the way.

    Until we stand up for our tax dollars, these imbeciles will continue to think of ways to spend every penny they get on nonsense like this.

    • SniperFire

      Problem is the idiots taking tax dollars now outnumber those who pay and would stand up against the nonsense spending. So… Elyria is doomed.

  • Bruce Tennant

    I’m shocked…. shocked and appalled….this is a complete blind side….I don’t think anyone would ever have seen this coming……said no taxpayer ever

  • Joe Smith

    Dig up all those stupid bushes and plant grass!
    At least do so to cut maintenance costs.

  • Bob Dobbs

    Now what are the cops going to hide behind??

  • Rufus

    Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose. Except on Rt57 then it’s a dead rose………..

  • Phil Blank

    Why clean the weeds if its going to torn up by heave equipment?

  • Phil Blank

    Look at the toses in Lorain that are I the sun all day, they look sun bleached, even the leaves look bad.

  • guest

    harsh weather ? how about negligence?

  • Sis Delish

    Fill it in with Peanut Butter and Banana sandwiches.. then, call it: “Graceland”.

  • bob44044

    This is just another example of politicians spending money on stuff that’s totally unnecessary. The public made an uproar when these plants were originally put in. The average guy knew then that this was a total waste of tax payer money. Mayor Grace’s response to those complaints was that the money for these plants did not come from local money, the same excuse this article mentioned. Local, state or federal, makes not difference, it’s ALL TAX MONEY. This only means that these government agencies have too much money too spend if they think they can spare money to waste on stuff like this. By the way harsh weather had nothing to do with these plants dying, it was lack of care. But the city knew this when they put them in. Grace admitted at the time that city crews couldn’t do the work and wanted to use prison laborers.

    • SniperFire

      ‘Local, state or federal, makes not difference, it’s ALL TAX MONEY.’

      Democrats simply don’t look at it like that. They think if somebody else is paying for it, the more the merrier. It permeates everything the do and is their most powerful vote-buying technique. gimme gimme gimme

  • bigmacky

    wasn’t there a big big stink a few years ago when inmates were suggested to take care of the weeding, mulching and upkeep of the flower beds? Didn’t the city union scream that doing so would take jobs from them? and so in the photo it says a firm OUT OF THE COUNTY was doing the work. Huh? why? and here’s one for you – how does a person with a horticulture degree get to be in charge of a street department? unless you count the weeds and such growing up through the cracks

  • SniperFire

    ‘The federal and state agencies provided the bulk of funding for the reconstruction project.’

    Actually, Lisa, that would be other taxpayers.

  • getamoveon

    I believe it was called the beautification project of route 57, with the plants and light poles. Well all I see is dead plants and cars running into light poles that they snap off if you bump them. The last time I checked all cars were required to have lights to travel down a road at night. Heck you even can have them on during the day now, it’s amazing. As for the plants that was just pure stupidity. I said it a 4 lane highway thorugh the city of Elyria, Ohio, winter = salt HHHmmmmmm = dead plants. Yes they still would had to cut the grass but cutting grass it much easier than weeding a flower bed.