Thank goodness for Anchorage’s master gardeners, who packed the Assembly chambers and helped inspire a deluge of e-mails that saved the downtown flowers, Anchorage Municipal Greenhouses – and about 35 jobs – from the chopping block when the Assembly voted on next year’s budget.
Since Friday, more than 400 emails had come in support of downtown flowers and public greenhouses, said Assemblyman John Weddleton. Weddleton had suggested cutting the city’s entire $1.7 million horticultural budget and shifting the money to illegal camps and shelter beds. –Anchorage Daily News
To be fair, Assemblyman Weddleton thought he was proposing a temporary cut and that volunteers could pick up the slack. Unfortunately, it turned out to be more complicated than that. Volunteer gardeners who tend flowers in numerous Anchorage parks depend on the municipal greenhouses for many of the flowers they plant and care for.
The city’s horticulture supervisor, Sandy Potvin, said she only learned of the proposals Friday morning. The largest cut would eliminate five full-time jobs and 30 seasonal employees, including her own, she said.
She also said the cut would destroy the city’s decades-old greenhouses, which are open to the public year-round. Because of their age, the heat can’t be turned off for long periods of time, she said.
“Once the facility is mothballed, it’s done,” she said. –Anchorage Daily News
Perhaps we’ll find a way – someday – to re-build the greenhouses next to the power station at Centennial Park and use waste heat from the power station to heat them, but for now the greenhouses at Russian Jack Springs are vital to keep Anchorage beautiful for residents and tourists each summer.