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Beautification ideas bloom at Willmar City Hall

WILLMAR—Situated on the corner of Sixth Street Southwest and Becker Avenue is an interesting contraption which Willmar City Administrator Larry Kruse hopes not only keeps flowers blooming, but spurs the growth of many other community ideas to keep Willmar vibrant and its residents involved.

"This is something that shows people can think of things a little differently," Kruse said.

When the City Council was unable to come up with a plan to provide the downtown area with flowers this summer, the city was left with a less colorful downtown.

"All the baskets were empty," Kruse said.

City staff brainstormed, trying to come up with potential ideas to plant and care for the flowers.

City Building Maintenance Supervisor Chris Simon, left, and Willmar City Adminstrator Larry Kruse show off their creation which A 90-gallon rain barrel was installed under a light pole with a flower basket. A hose connects the barrel to the flower basket above and with a quick press of the foot pump, water can go from the barrel to the flowers. Chris Simon, with city building maintenance, put the equipment together.

"I give him credit for putting it all together," Kruse said.

The barrel can be filled by a city water truck, making it more efficient than watering the basket every couple of days.

"The barrel lasts almost a week and a half," Simon said.

The flowers were provided by Stacy's Nursery, Kruse said.

The project also makes it possible for those living and working in downtown to assist with keeping the flowers in peak condition. Kruse said someone walking by the basket who notices the plants are looking a little thirsty could simply step on the pump and give the flowers a much needed drink.

"Help us out," Kruse said.

Kruse is also looking for community thoughts and ideas about the flowers. Kruse said he has not heard any complaints about the lack of flowers, so he wants to know if they're even important to those downtown. Simon said he has heard of people who do miss the flowers.

"Is it important to the community? It doesn't hurt to take a look at what is being done," Kruse said.

Kruse is also hoping community members will come to him with ideas. The rain barrel is just one possibility and currently there is only the one near City Hall.

"What other ideas do people have. We want our downtown to be a vibrant place," Kruse said.

"Show that it's not forgotten about," Simon said.

Regardless of what happens the rest of this season, Kruse wants to make sure city staff and the council have an idea for next year long before the growing season begins.

"We definitely need to get a plan for next year," Kruse said.