The withering of the Clovis city landscaping budget has resulted in a bumper crop that nobody wants -- weeds.
So the city is now seeking sponsors for upkeep of some city medians that in the past has been paid for with general fund dollars, the same money that pays for police and fire services, some road work, recreation and seniors programs and other city services.
The maintenance budget for parks, trails and medians has fallen by one-third in the past two years -- a loss of $500,000 -- which means medians maintained with general fund money now will be cleaned only once a year.
Trash pickup and weed spraying are done quarterly.
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The city used to spend about $48,400 yearly to maintain medians along Shaw and Clovis avenues but had to ax the expenditure.
City officials don't want to see the two avenues, which are the city's most highly traveled, start to look shoddy. So about 50 city management employees each are shelling out $55 to cover the costs of median landscape maintenance along Shaw Avenue, said Eric Aller, the city's parks manager.
Their donation will help maintain a quarter-mile median for about six months.
"It's important to keep the town up," he said. "When revenues are down maintenance goes down, too, so it looks worse."
The city's program is similar to one run by Caltrans, which acknowledges highway "adopters" with a sign.
Sponsors will be named on signs posted in the medians they are helping to maintain.
The city management team's quarter-mile segment will be along Shaw, near Willow Avenue.
"It's an important commercial area for the city that needs revitalization and is a gateway into the community," City Manager Kathy Millison said. "I think demonstrating our commitment ... with our pocketbook is probably one of the best ways to lead forward and maybe inspire others to jump on board."
For business owners, median sponsorship means their company's name will be seen by thousands of motorists, said Erika Martenson, owner of Mountain Girl Silver in West Linn, Ore., whose online business was the first to sponsor a Clovis median.
Martenson, who was raised in Shaver Lake and is Aller's sister-in-law, said she has not spent much time or money on marketing and saw the median program as a good opportunity.
Her quarter-mile segment is on Clovis Avenue, north of Shaw.
"I chose that one because it's well traveled and I wanted to make sure it would be near some long stop lights," she said. "It's like every time you cruise down the freeway and see an Adopt-a-Highway sign. I always thought it would be cool to have my name on one of those."
The medians can be paid for in six-month installments of $1,625 or $2,800, depending on the amount of upkeep needed.
Other medians along Ashlan, Fowler, Nees and Minnewawa avenues also need work, but they are not yet in the program, Aller said.
"The main corridor is where we wanted to start," he said. "If this program brings in more island sponsors, we plan to extend it."