Happy and Sad Hanging Baskets in Salem where city government needs to learn about watering

Hanging baskets do a lot to beautify Salem's downtown. But only when they're taken care of properly. Failure to water them -- no big shock -- leads to them looking like this.

A 2014 photo of a sad hanging basket

Carole Smith, a downtown business owner and resident, sent me a bunch of hanging basket photos because she's disturbed about the lack of attention paid to watering them by the City of Salem. Here's what she said in an email:

Each year the city pays about $25,000 for the hanging baskets and the watering. Every year I tell the city they need to water once a day until the temperature reaches 85 degrees or above then they need to be watered twice a day. Every year they tell me they don’t need my advice and they are doing just fine. Then all the plants die by end of Sept. . . Every year. This is paid for from our parking tax paid by downtown businesses. We have no say, but the most successful baskets were in 2012 when the Salem Downtown Partnership managed the baskets.
All the other small towns around the willamette valley have spectacular hanging baskets every year, except us. Every year. . .

Here's some photos of hanging baskets other Oregon towns have wrought.

Ashland, Oregon 2017
Sheridan, Oregon 2017
Monmouth, Oregon 2017

And here's some of the "sad" hanging baskets from years City of Salem staff were supposed to make sure they got watered regularly.

Salem 2013
Salem 2016
Salem 2013

For contrast, here's a photo Carole took in 2013 of a hanging basket in front of the India Palace restaurant that was watered properly.

Salem 2013 -- watered

My wife has observed similar problems with trees newly-planted by the City of Salem along streets. Some don't get watered enough. They they wither and die, wasting taxpayer money.

Proving that a private organization can figure out how to keep hanging baskets thriving, these are photos Carole shared of a year the Salem Downtown Partnership took care of them.

Salem 2012 Downtown Partnership
Salem 2012 Downtown Partnership
Salem 2012 Downtown Partnership
Salem 2012 Downtown Partnership
Salem 2012 Downtown Partnership

Hopefully City staff will learn from their previous watering errors and take better care of downtown Salem's hanging baskets in the future.

A Streetscape Project is getting underway that asks, "Do you have ideas about how to make Downtown Salem's sidewalks more inviting, exciting, or fun?"

Yeah, I do, thanks to Carole Smith's exposé of scandalous hanging basket mistreatment by the City of Salem, which it seems fitting to call Watergate (to not coin a term).

Make sure the damn hanging baskets get watered!

If you want to share your views of Watergate with City officials, here's their email address: citycouncil@cityofsalem.net

Created By
Brian Hines

Report Abuse

If you feel that this video content violates the Adobe Terms of Use, you may report this content by filling out this quick form.

To report a Copyright Violation, please follow Section 17 in the Terms of Use.