By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN
BG Independent News
Mayor Mike Aspacher was fed up with complaints about out-of-control weeds and overgrown landscaping at the downtown Federal Building that houses the U.S. Post Office.
The building is not owned by the city – but many people have blamed Bowling Green for the visual pollution.
“Frankly, the state of this landscaping for the past two years has been embarrassing,” the mayor said Tuesday night during a city council meeting.
“Like me, some of you may have had complaints or concerns over the past few years about the state of the landscaping around the post office,” Aspacher told council members.
A local builder repeatedly brought up the deteriorated landscaping to the mayor.
“After hearing him three, four or five times, I asked if he was ready to be part of the solution – and he was,” the mayor said.
The builder, Jeff Rettig, had his employees work on the site for several days, pulling out weeds and poorly maintained plants.
“I appreciate Jeff’s willingness to make this contribution and be part of the solution,” Aspacher said.
From there, two anonymous donors agreed to pay a local contractor to put mulch around the post office where the plants had been uprooted.
“They were part of the solution,” the mayor said. “It will be greatly improved.”
The immediate goal was to improve the site ahead of the Black Swamp Arts Festival, which will have an expanded footprint this weekend, south past the Post Office property at the corner of South Main and Washington streets.
The problem, Aspacher said, is that although the federal government owns the site, it does not provide adequate funding for maintenance. The mayor said he would continue to work with U.S. Representative Bob Latta, R-Bowling Green, to resolve the issue.
This isn’t the first time the community of Bowling Green has attempted to clean up the landscaped areas of the Federal Building.
About 18 years ago, a neighborhood group planted landscaping and maintained the property after some homes were demolished to add parking to the post office. However, the volunteers have dried up over the years.
In 2019, some Bowling Green residents grew tired of looking at the overgrown weeds surrounding the U.S. Post Office Building and voiced their complaints on Facebook. The postmaster said at the time that the problem was due to the expiration of the post office’s contract with a gardener. A new company was hired – but they only provided mowing, no landscaping. Because the site is a federal building, any changes to contracts take time and must obtain district approval.
City Council Speaker Mark Hollenbaugh thanked Aspacher for finding a solution to the overgrown landscaping.
“People don’t understand it’s not our property,” Hollenbaugh said. “All you have to do is look at Wooster Green or any of our parks to see how immaculately maintained all of our belongings are.”
Aspacher expressed his gratitude for community members who stepped up.
“It was a bit difficult,” he said. “But people are willing to roll up their sleeves and get their hands dirty. I am grateful to those who are willing to contribute to a solution.