Winslow Way is back in bloom

High school students help bring back flower baskets to downtown.

Winslow Way is coming into full bloom this season.

The main street’s flower baskets will return this summer.

Bainbridge High School senior Dylan Lehotsky has been scaling ladders up and down Winslow Way and Madison Avenue, hanging the flower baskets over the past week.

“It was surprisingly easier than we thought it would be,” Dylan said.

Easy or not, lugging the flower baskets up approximately 13-feet and then attaching them, was a hefty task. With the help of local arborist Mike Juneau, Dylan installed 24 baskets throughout downtown Winslow, and plans to put up 10 more.

The baskets have been a common feature of the downtown streets for years. They beautify the walkways with flowers during the summer season.

But the baskets have had a tough few years.

Five years ago the city stopped paying for the flower baskets. Luckily, the Bainbridge Island Downtown Association stepped up to help keep them hanging. They partnered with the senior center, and with funding donations from organizations such as the Rotary, they were able to keep the baskets up and blooming.

However, last year was another blow to the downtown scenery. The Winslow Way construction removed the road-side poles that were used to hang the flowers. The baskets themselves were showing their age and were ultimately unable to perform their floral duties any longer.

In addition, the city said that lodging tax funds would no longer be available for the basket program. The downtown association had previously depended on the source of funds for the flowers and their maintenance.

For the summer of 2011, the first time in years, downtown had no flowers.

This year, however, they’re back.

Funding donations from the Rotary and even a little from the city, along with private support, came through.

Maintenance of the flowers will be done by volunteers, mostly high school helpers organized by Dylan. The senior will get up early each summer morning to take on the task of watering the flowers.

“The goal of the watering operation is to create a youth-oriented project, to really get youth volunteering with the city,” Dylan said. “It’s another way for kids to get involved with downtown.”

“I’m managing it,” he added. “I’ll be there every day watering.”

Hopefully, Dylan will have a friend to help out.

“You need one person to drive and one person to water,” Dylan said. “Once it starts getting dry, we will water them six times a week.”

Dylan said that with the city on the mend with road repairs and downtown coming back after construction, this was a way for a young islander such as himself to be more involved with his city.

“The one thing I have noticed is there aren’t too many kids involved with (their city),” Dylan said.

“But by volunteering like this I can learn a bit more and make it a bit better of a place to live, or at least a prettier place to live.”

Dylan’s mom, Karin Lehotsky, owner of the Lollipops Children’s Boutique downtown, has offered her truck to carry the water tank.for the flowers.