New hanging flower baskets are bringing color to the downtown Plaza, but moveable tables and chairs will not be added — at least for now.
Local couple Kathryn Thalden, a landscape architect, and Barry Thalden, an architect, donated the flowers and paid for metal arms that were shipped overnight and added to the lamp posts.
The flower baskets went up in time to adorn the Plaza before the town kicked off a series of Fourth of July activities.
City of Ashland employees installed the arms, flower baskets and irrigation tubing and timers for the baskets, among other tasks, said City Management Analyst Ann Seltzer.
Contractors removed and reinstalled Plaza pavers to make way for the work and also helped with the irrigation system, she said.
The donation from the Thaldens totaled about $1,200, while the city paid about $5,000 for the contractors' work, Seltzer said.
City Councilor Pam Marsh had proposed that the city add moveable tables and chairs and on-the-ground flower pots to further enliven the Plaza.
But the council on July 1 nixed the idea, citing cost concerns along with the logistical challenges of setting the tables and chairs out seven days per week and then removing them for storage each evening.
Lacquered steel bistro-style chairs would have cost $56 each and tables would have cost $128 each if Ashland had ordered them from Fermob Bistro Furniture, which sells the street furniture to many cities, according to city staff.
The city is moving forward with plans to paint an information booth on the Plaza.
Councilors have asked artists Sue Springer and Margaret Garrington to team up with Ashland Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Sandra Slattery to research and recommend four paint palettes for the booth. Councilors will make the final color choices.
Springer designed and installed a new public art mural on the Plaza while Garrington is the chairwoman of the Ashland Public Arts Commission.
The Chamber of Commerce manages the information booth.
A four-month, $200,000 effort to reconstruct the Plaza wrapped up in April.
Several mature trees that were suffering in the tight urban environment were removed, along with worn lawn areas.
The reconstruction project included installing pavers underfoot, creating the public art mosaic, installing benches, burying a time capsule to be opened in 100 years and building low concrete walls that protect landscaping and double as seating.
The city also started offering free Ashland Fiber Network wireless Internet service on the Plaza.
Staff reporter Vickie Aldous can be reached at 541-479-8199 or firstname.lastname@example.org.