By Bill O’Boyle, Wilkes-Barre Times Leader
WILKES-BARRE — There have been some hangings on Public Square recently — not bank robbers or cattle rustlers — but flower baskets that business leaders feel is another step in the beautification of the city.
At Friday morning’s meeting of the Downtown Wilkes-Barre Business Association at Downtown Arts on North Franklin Street, Diamond City Partnership’s Larry Newman said 48 hanging baskets have been hung around Public Square as a trial project.
It could lead to more being placed along the main arteries leading to center city, he said.
“It’s another incremental step in improving the appearance of downtown,” Newman said. “If successful, the plan is to expand the project to radiate outward from Public Square.”
Newman said the city helped the project by hanging the brackets for the baskets. Diamond City is responsible for watering and maintaining them.
The baskets are located on the streetlights around the perimeter of Public Square. Dundee Gardens provided the planted flower baskets at wholesale cost and the partnership purchased hanger brackets for the lampposts that were installed by city workers.
The partnership’s Clean Team will be responsible for watering and maintaining the baskets throughout the summer.
Liz Graham, chairperson of the partnership’s board, said, “By keeping the downtown area clean and well maintained and augmenting that effort with projects such as this beautification, we are sending a clear message that there is strong management in Downtown Wilkes-Barre and it is a prime investment opportunity for those that want to live, work, or go to school in a walk-to-everything urban environment.”
In his monthly address to the DWBBA, Newman said the momentum in Downtown Wilkes-Barre is growing stronger with significant investment from entrepreneurs and developers and from the colleges. He said the hanging baskets offer “a visual cue” that reflects the pride and progress that has been and continues to be made downtown.
Newman also noted the residential development projects going on in the buildings on all four corners of West Market and North Franklin streets. The former Citizens Bank — now called The Bank — building, the former Wyoming National Bank and former FNCB Bank buildings are all undergoing transformational projects creating residential units. A similar project is expected to begin soon in the PNC Bank building.
Newman and DWBBA President John Chaump of Barnes and Noble announced an advertising campaign that will highlight events going on throughout the year at downtown businesses. They said the goal is to get the message of downtown happenings out. They will be talking to media outlets to seek partners for the ad campaign.
Newman said he was contacted by Jim Walsh, a World War II veteran who is an advocate for displaying the American flag, urging businesses to participate and show the colors throughout the year.