Changing Seasons, Changing Focus

The City of Prattville's Urban Management Department has faced many obstacles since its conception. We have expanded our areas of responsibility every year since 2009. Urban Management (then the Horticulture Division) saw its first change in the spring of 2009.  Prattville received a great floral display in the downtown area initiated by former Urban Management Director Ken Johnson the first property that was added to our responsibility was Pratt Park. In 2011, Urban Management saw its biggest change with a push to streamline three departments. The departments were combined into what is now known as Urban Management and took on the role of maintaining all green areas except the facilities that housed athletic fields. This year had some changes for the department as well. The urban Management Department is now responsible for all the grass cutting in the city parks, R.O.W., common areas, cemeteries, and athletic fields. This year we have also seen a "Change of Guard" and the department has restructured in-house. The Department now houses two divisions managed by Deven Peek and Matthew Morgan. Urban Management does not have an appointed Department Head and is set up to fall under Mayor Bill Gillespie's vision of a Public Works Department.

In the coming months, many changes will be occurring in the parks and in the downtown area. Now that we are heading in to the off season for grass cutting we will tackle other projects to prepare for the spring of 2013. The greenhouse has been stocked with cuttings taken from plant material that was on display in the flower beds the past 6 months. Some staff members have started troubleshooting Christmas lights to start preparing for the Christmas Tree Lighting on November 29 at City hall at 6pm. As the grass cutting slows down, our Bush hog operators will also change gears. They will start helping with other activities and projects. We plan to create some new bed areas in the parks; for example at Mac Gray park on the corner of Ridgewood and MLK there are numerous crape myrtles that line the edge of the park, currently we have to cut then go back and trim. By reducing the amount of weed eating with the addition of bed space, time will be saved on weekly maintenance. Inexpensive projects like this will enhance the appearance of the park as well as save on manpower. We will also focus on getting the parks cleaned up by removing leaves, pruning shrubs, applying mulch, and pine straw. This offseason we are planning on starting a herbicide program in the flower beds so next year we can cut down on hand weeding. We are also in the testing phase of some new products. The hanging basket outside of City Hall has a built in reservoir that should cut down on the frequency of watering. Hopefully by reducing the amount of hand watering we will be able to revitalize the basket program. After the first of the year when Christmas lights come down we will start prepping beds and getting them ready for planting starting around April 15.


~submitted by Assistant Horticulturist Deven Peek & Assistant Horticulturist Matt Morgan