SUWANEE -- One of the more talked about issues around the city this summer is getting a second look from city officials.
The landscaping project of 15 medians along Peachtree Industrial Boulevard, which started this spring, has hit an unexpected obstacle as native grass planted on five of the seven medians has died. The issue is the grass plugs have dried out because of heavy wind created by vehicle traffic.
The project, which was budgeted for about $250,000, was originally tabbed to be at least a year or two process before the grass matured, city manager Marty Allen said.
At least two city council members, Doug Ireland and Kevin McOmber, noted at a recent City Council workshop that several concerned residents have inquired about the project.
They admit that even if the project went according to plan, it would be a long-term timeframe before the landscaping looked ideal. Allen has often called it a "bad haircut" look in the early stages, and Ireland said it would look worse before it gets better.
"We're just going to have to be patient and field the calls," Ireland said. "It's going to look awesome later."
The intent of the project was to create something identifiable for motorists entering the city, Allen said, because the medians were previously filled with overgrown weeds.
"We could have gone with a standard, vanilla sod," Allen said. "We wanted to have a more interesting design. We wanted to have a more maintenance-free design, once it's mature. We also wanted something a little bit different. They designed something that's based upon native grasses."
Council members asked city staff about alternatives, and noted that a business association put a monkey grass type of landscaping in medians on McGinnis Ferry Road toward Johns Creek. But Allen said it's a difficult to find a balance between a grass that can withstand the elements, but also be unique.
The other problem is to kill weeds, but keep the young native grasses -- which are a type of weed -- alive.
"We can continue to plant them," Allen said. "Just slowly they're going to come up, or plant a larger size and get more bang for our buck, and we don't have to go through as many growing pains."
The citizen response was not surprising to Allen, who said people typically react to things like a radio in a new public utility truck, and not, for example, a $50 million power plant.
"It's more visible, they see it, pass it everyday," Allen said. "They understand it. They understand weeds, because they're dealing with weeds in their yard."