Tara Leo Auchey, Penn Live, July 10, 2013
Why is the city so overcome with weeds, especially Riverfront Park?
It’s because it’s been a very wet summer so far. Consequently, the weeds are lush and profusely doing what weeds do.
Why isn’t the city maintaining the overgrowth of flora along the banks of the Susquehanna River, at the base of street lights and trashcans, and throughout roadways?
Well, that’s not quite as easy to answer as the first question.
As residents of Harrisburg, a city in state receivership, we often hear the phrase “vital and necessary” in reference to the services the city provides. Such services are deemed fundamental and must be delivered by government such as police and fire, sanitation, and fulfillment of debt obligations. In fact, on page five of PA Senate Bill 1151–locally nicknamed the “Harrisburg takeover bill”—you’ll find a list of vital and necessary services of a fiscally distressed municipality.
Weed whacking is not one of them.
Still, that does not quell the complaint or frustration of residents and visitors who walk the riverfront, drive city streets, or strive for a view of the Susquehanna now impeded by a variety of indigenous vegetation growing monstrously tall.
Grievances have been pouring in to Harrisburg’s Department of Parks, Recreation, and Enrichment, the Department of Public Works, and the city council. In response, city government says it’s doing what it can with the little resources it has. It’s not even just about the money but also about workforce, priorities, and equipment. Ironically, one of the city’s mowers was broken for most of June.
Collaboration, though, will be the key to a steadfast plan of upkeep of the city. Residents and business owners should be encouraged to pull what overgrowth they can around their homes and establishments. Organizations and community groups will have to step up their adopted maintenance of parks and median strips.
[Editor’s Note: According to the 2010 Census, Harrisburg is 52 percent black, 25 percent white, and 18 percent Hispanic.]