Hanging Baskets

FlowersSo, many of us in Woodstock Village received a wordy flier in our mailboxes beseeching us to contribute to a total of $6,000 to make sure hanging flower baskets are paid for and adorning our Village.  We love those flowers, they’re very nice, we appreciate those who put them up and keep them healthy.

However. This flier came from the Woodstock Village Business Alliance which seems to be proud of NOT asking the Town (Or Village) to pay for this beautification project and wants to impose the responsibility on residents.

Hello? Woodstock Early Bird’s question is simple:  WHY SHOULDN’T THIS PROJECT BE PAID FOR BY THE VILLAGE?


If the Woodstock Village Trustees, the Woodstock Inn and the Woodstock Village Business Alliance are all in agreement that we need to maintain our “reputation” as a “beautiful and quaint place to live” and,  in order to further apparent efforts at making Woodstock: the Wedding Tourism Capital of New England, then it should precisely be a priority to spend public monies for aesthetic enhancements,  spend our taxpayer funds on this kind of project.

We have already paid our taxes, which are getting to be so high as to be “non-sustainable”,  why should we now be asked to supplement our funding of this rather large civic enhancement? flowers

We have heard from at least one Early Bird who also was not amused  and rather put off by what they believed is a rather outrageous request from the Village Business Alliance. They said they would love to contribute to the cost of the baskets except they’re short of funds from spending hundreds of dollars paying a contractor to clear the PUBLIC sidewalk in front of their house all winter long, year after year.

Here’s an idea that comes from this evening’s very Village Trustees Meeting:

Tonight Trustees approved buying a $6500 storage locker from funds apparently gained from the recent sale of a dump truck.  Had someone only been there to say, “Hey, wait a minute, that’s just the amount we need to pay for the hanging flower baskets!”  “How perfect is that?  Problem solved!”

Oh, there was someone there from the Village Business Alliance.  And from  the Woodstock Inn.  Nobody spoke a peep!

C’mon Woodstock.  Put your money where your mouth is. If you want this to be a consistently inviting place, as we all want it to be, use our already high tax dollars to keep the Village consistently maintained and aesthetically pleasing: Flowers in the summer, consistently plowed roads and sidewalks in the winter. All of that indicates a place that uses its taxes well and CARES.

Don’t get us wrong, we LOVE FLOWERS! We love that Village Businesses make the effort to get the basket UP.

But, don’t do it on the backs of those (taxpaying residents) who are already making extra contributions for enhancement of PUBLIC SPACES.  As we have said in the past: That dog don’t hunt.



23 responses to this post.

  1. Good comment, spot on!


  2. Posted by Molly on June 11, 2013 at 21:44

    Read the flyer today, and agree with you. Let them pay for the baskets…not
    try to dupe town residents into forking up.


  3. Posted by Nancy H on June 11, 2013 at 22:15

    The village did fine without the baskets in the past. If our merchants are so concerned they can jolly well pay for them. Actually they are a nice idea, but paying someone to water them sounds a lot like the “welcome center” that wasn’t going to cost we taxpayers anything. Fool me once . . .


  4. Posted by Laurel on June 11, 2013 at 22:41

    As a member of the community and the School Agriculture Department I know the cost to the town for the Baskets. They are done by the students at a very minimal cost to the community. The majority of the cost is to maintain and water them all summer. If the members of the business community wanted to save money they could water, fertilize and maintain a basket each.


  5. Posted by Cindy Carroll on June 11, 2013 at 23:32

    Why not give some credit to the Woodstock Garden Club who’s planter you featured in this whiney blog. The Garden Club doesn’t ask for a penny of taxes and yet plants and maintains flower boxes throughout the Village.



    • Thank you for pointing out whose planter is featured in this whiney post.

      We, personally, regularly make financial contributions to the Garden Club via your plant sale and also give you free advertising for your fundraiser.

      But hey, you never ask for assistance?

      This post was about a specific flier sent out by the Village Business Alliance and about the need for flower baskets – and perhaps Garden Club planters TOO – to be filled and paid for with already collected PUBLIC FUNDS.

      We would support the use of public funds for all such enhancements. Maybe you missed the point?



  6. Posted by Donna on June 12, 2013 at 07:21

    How many times have we heard “this won’t cause taxpayers a thing”?


  7. Posted by Donna on June 12, 2013 at 07:23

    excuse me, I meant to say “cost” taxpayers a thing”?


  8. Posted by Peggy Fraser on June 12, 2013 at 07:29

    Thank you for bringing the Woodstock Garden Club’s Annual Plant Sale to the attention of your readers – we appreciate it although I did not realize it was advertising. I thought it was announcing a community event that has become a Memorial Day week-end tradition.
    The Garden Club through our civic beautification project is more than happy to contribute to the charm & beauty of our village by planting & maintaining flowers in the planters on the bridge, the urns at the library, at The Dummy, in the barrels on The Green & by the Covered Bridge. We have also made donations for the hanging baskets. I believe we paid for the actual baskets themselves when they were first proposed by the Village Business Alliance. We also love the fact that the WUHS students are so involved & actually grow the flowers. It is not only a good horticultural experience for high school students but it encourages giving back to the community in a healthy volunteer spirit. we applaud John Hiers & Laurel Tobiason for all the good work they do at the high school.
    I realize your post was about a specific flyer & speaking just for me, I am glad you give voice to these public issues. But I do want to respond to your “But hey …” question & let you know that the Garden Club has not & does not ask for assistance. It is in fact an essential part of our mission to aid in the beautification of the town & we are dedicated to the commitment through a strong sense of volunteerism.
    By the way, you might want to check out the Post Office where a new Postmaster Jim Ragosta has brought a revitalized energy & enthusiasm to making it a vibrant part of the community & where anonymous volunteers have been enhancing the grounds. It is a very happy story.
    Peggy Fraser
    Woodstock Garden Club


    • Posted by Sari on June 12, 2013 at 08:04

      Well said Peggy!!


    • Thanks, Peggy, for your comment and information about the Woodstock Garden Club whose efforts we always appreciate!

      But, we think you are splitting hairs and WEB is only calling a spade a spade: If you are asking for people to BUY plants as a fundraiser, you are asking for financial support. Also, a FUNDRAISER is meant for one thing: Raising money. It doesn’t get any simpler: You are asking for money. Notwithstanding the very excellent reasons for your requests, your well-known “community event” is a fundraiser. While your plant people and water-ers may be volunteers, it is stated clearly on signage at the Plant Sale that you are trying to raise money.

      It might be something for folks to consider that Woodstock Early Bird has bills to pay, too. If you’re trying to raise money or garner community support using our blog, it might be nice to consider financially supporting the very vehicle you use to do so. That is often known as advertising.

      Other individuals and businesses in this community understand that if they are trying to raise funds — for whatever reasons — that part of that effort involves advertising. So, yes, the Woodstock Garden Club received free advertising.

      For example, one of our advertisers, a solo artist without any extra means, had one special event recently — A gallery opening which was certainly a community event. However, she put her money where her business is and paid for an ad on Woodstock Early Bird. She understands that in order to make money and publicize her work, she needed to spend money.

      Out of support for individuals who asked nicely, we didn’t ask for funds this time around from the Woodstock Garden Club, but may do so in the future, especially since some of your members seem to think we’re just whiney. Good will works many ways. We repeat, we are NOT a free community bulletin board and have never desired to be such.

      There is a lovely FREE listserve established just for that purpose, which does not require much time or money of the moderator.

      What we do at Woodstock Early Bird takes LOTS of time and money — time and money that is not being spent elsewhere as it could be.

      But back to the point, what we don’t understand is why everyone is so proud that they aren’t asking the Village for use of our tax dollars. Your Woodstock Garden Club, the Woodstock Business Alliance are all asking us for assistance, in one way or another — on top of our taxes.

      What WEB is saying, or asking, is LET’S ACTUALLY USE PUBLIC MONIES to help these wonderful efforts — yours included — rather than trying to “out-source” funding from residents who are already contributing enough.

      If you want us to support efforts at flowery enhancement of public spaces — publically or privately — again, splitting hairs — maybe Village Trustees and the Town Selectboard might again consider taking care of our public spaces year-round by doing such things as paying to shovel and plow public sidewalks.

      Then, we might have extra funds to use privately elsewhere, including at the always lovely annual Woodstock Garden Club Plant Sale Fundraiser.



      • Posted by Kevin Clark on June 16, 2013 at 12:18

        In my view, businesses and individuals that are “for profit” advertise. Organizations or individuals that are “not for profit” seek public service announcements.

        Businesses such as the Woodstock Inn, Prince & Pauper and Woodstock Hardware advertise. But they also provide public service announcements (I.e. donations to non-profit groups). These donations support the community. They also create Goodwill. Quite often those receiving Goodwill, will repay the provider of said Goodwill, with their own business. Creating Goodwill is good for business.
        Wouldn’t it be nice if a member of the garden club decided to advertise her “for profit” business on your blog. One hand washes the other.


  9. Flower baskets are nice, but wouldn’t it be inviting if we had Unicorns on each street corner and Rainbows in the sky every day? I could care less who pays for them as long as it’s either the merchants or the Village residents through an added tax.


    • We know, Hunter, as long as it’s not a TOWN tax on unicorns and rainbows, it’s all good. 😉


      • Exactly!

        Hey, maybe someone could apply for a Federal grant. Flower growers, unicorn herders and meteorologists could use the economic stimulus and we’d all benefit at no cost except to future generations who have to pay the bill.


    • Posted by Gwen on June 12, 2013 at 20:17

      Wow, Hunter, sound heavily influenced by my seven year old. She’d love to see unicorns and rainbows around town.


  10. Posted by Chris Balcer on June 12, 2013 at 09:38

    As I recall, the VBA initiated the hanging baskets a few years back. Larry Perry was an ardent supporter and essentially put his time, effort and $$ where his mouth is…along with contributions of other VBA members…The P&P being one.

    The baskets do look terrific, and over the years the cost has mounted. Perhaps a multi-pronged funding approach would resolve the shortage of funds. Asking the Village tax payers to underwrite the FULL cost will raise hackles…as already seems to be the case. Perhaps a shared involvement between the Chamber, VBA, Garden Club and The Village (yes folks, those precious tax dollars of ours) would minimize the burden for the continuation of this enhancement.

    While we hash out yet another funding broo-ha-ha, this guy will march over to VBA headquarters and kick in a few bucks.


    • We seem to run into this funding conundrum over and over in Woodstock…The story of a visionary philanthropist (Say a Billings, Rockefeller, Teagle or a Perry) who set out — on their own — to do what they believe is their important civic duty related to beautification of our Village. Then, when they have moved on, or their interests and efforts go elsewhere, we are faced with a vacuum and much hand-wringing about how to maintain the vision — the nuts and bolts of which involve, as usual, time and money.

      It just seems that there is much talking into our hats: On the one hand, the Village Trustees, the Woodstock Inn, as well as the Woodstock Chamber of Commerce insisting that our “mission” is to attract more tourists — of the wedding variety — and changing laws and ordinances to that end, expanding noise permits and so forth to encourage business.and yet, not following through by finding the public funds (from some special Municipal Managerial “slush pile”) to make sure the Village “looks the part” 24/7, 365 days a year — Fom clean, safely shovelled sidewalks to elimination of run-down buildings, back-alley messes to keeping the lamp flowers going.

      Frankly, taking a walk around the Village this morning, we looked hard at the baskets and realized that it is almost impossible to see the flowers — the only visual is the bottoms of the potting soil containers wrapped in metal…Then, we look at eye level and see, yes, all the wonderul Garden Club and private business flowers. Hmmm….WEB


  11. Posted by Elizabeth Finlayson on June 12, 2013 at 11:47

    Hello all
    It is a choice- just like choosing to donate to Pentangle, the Senior Center, the Rec Center, Zacks Place and on and on…… The VBA creatively is selling raffle tickets to help fund the village beautification project, too. If we had gone to the tax payers you might have written about the frivolity of the request. So people like Chris can make a choice to donate-but your don’t have to. End of story!
    Beth Finlayson


    • Maybe the “choice” should be this: If you don’t have the funds for extra flower baskets then don’t pre-spend funds you don’t have.

      We understand some Village businesses are having enough trouble keeping their inventory and paying rent that they cant really do anything more.

      Perhaps the “choice” is for the Woodstock Chamber of Commerce to be fiscally responsible and not pay for some other event or expenditure if it thinks baskets are that important.

      Whether it is taxes or passing the basket you are still asking residents for more than they have to give. The flier being sent out indicates this lack of awareness.



  12. Posted by Careen on June 12, 2013 at 12:02

    How much was the postage and printing involved to send out the VBA appeal ?


  13. Posted by Chris Balcer on June 12, 2013 at 12:46

    @ Careen – the originating address of the flyer is 11 Central St (Ferro Jewelers) Perhaps Nick was generous enough to underwrite the mailing. I dunno.

    @ Julie – the current funding shortfall is $2650. Yes, it appears that the cart was put before the horse – this year anyway- and while your point(s) are valid and well taken, the baskets are up and the debt exists. Surely the citizens and powers-at-large in the Village can pony up the $2650. Chris & P&P are in for $300. We’re down to $2350.



    • Good job! P&P making it happen!

      We would just suggest again that Mr. Municipal Manager Phil Swanson always seems to find some special fund from which the Village Trustees can draw. Seems that flowers might be just as important as a storage locker and we are willing to bet, that if asked, the Trustees would be more than happy to pony up 2 or 3K so you as an already generous business wouldn’t have to pick up the slack for something that is to all our benefit. WEB


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