The idea started when Bob Kennedy drove back from his yearly winter get away to Florida. Bob drove through many states before finally reaching Massachusetts. Bob was very disappointed on the beauty, or lack-there-of, of our highways compared to the other states. Bob asked his son Chris, who at the time was on the board of the Massachusetts Nursery and Landscape Association, if there was something the Green Industry could do about it. Chris asked then Sate Representative Frank Hynes for some help. Rep. Hynes lined up a meeting with the Commissioner of the Mass Highway department to see what the options were. That meeting led to a discussion about piloting a program to improve high visibility spots in Massachusetts using experts in the field of horticulture with professional landscaping. Right away Chris determined the new roundabout in Scituate would be a good place to try out this new pilot program. Little did he know it would take 5 years!
When the expansion of the Commuter Rail down to Greenbush was completed in 2007, they had no plans for any landscaping inside the roundabout despite the fact that the space was such a high visibility location.
Chris inquired about the landscaping and offered the town some landscaping in exchange for a sign. All the people Chris talked to were in favor of the idea, but the town did not own the land or have rights to landscape it. Chris was directed to talk to Mass Highway officials. Through many years of meetings, paperwork, plans, Chris hit too many obstacles to get the clearance he needed. Finally, Mass Hwy was re-organized into the Department of Transportation. State Representative Jim Cantwell offered to get the ball rolling. Rep. Cantwell was able to set up meetings with the new leadership at the DOT and was able to get approval for the town to adopt the inside of the roundabout. Al Bangert, head of Scituate DPW, was also instrumental in this process and was able to offer Chris the ability to adopt the site from the town. He also offered to have the DPW mow the grass.
Finally in September 2012, it became official at a town meeting that Kennedy’s can adopt the site. Despite the many rules, regulations, and long approval process, Kennedy’s has agreed to provide the landscaping and maintenance of the plants to the state and town free of charge.
Chris hopes this landscaping will help beautify the very important “gateway” to Scituate. He also hopes the donation will inspire others to want to garden and support local business like Kennedy’s that promote gardening and employ local people. This project expects to be a win-win for local residents, businesses, the town, the state and Kennedy’s. Thank you for your interest and support!
We hope to update you on our progress!
Links to stories about this project in the local media:
Wicked local story from September 6, 2012
Boston.com story from September 6, 2012