While officials in the Maryland suburbs have had to think about getting water flowing back through some of their constitutent's faucets. Supervisors in Fairfax county worried yesterday why no one was watering the trees and shrubs around government buildings.
Twenty-six dead trees, trees - four junipers, four dogwoods, two white pines, one red maple, 10 oaks and five cedars - were removed recently from around the Mason District government center on Columbia Pike, Supervisors Alan H. Magazine (D-Mason) noted yesterday.
The trees, intended for general beautification as well as for screening between the center and surrounding homes, will not be replaced by the contractor who planted them, Magazine said, since they were not given proper care as was stipulated in the landscape contract.
Although the cold winter was also a factor in the death of the trees, it was primarily a lack of watering that killed them, observed Bobby L. Royce, the Fairfax county Park Authority's superintendent of maintenance.
Watering the greenery around government facilities is a task for which both park landscape crews and county custodians say they have neither the time nor manpower.
"If I had to water all the plants around all the county buildings, I could not get much else done," Royce said. His 11-man crew must take care of landscaping around 220 neighborhood parks, 18 libraries, five police stations, 26 fire stations and 14 miscellaneous buildings plus the county office building, the courthouse and the school administration building.
Royce said his men visit each site two times a year to weed, mulch and spray. Other park crews mow lawns. "I don't see why the janitors can't come out of the buildings and water," said Royce.
Charles E. Williams, head of the county's custodial services, said there was an agreement between his department and the Park Authority several years ago under which the janitors would water plants immediately adjacent to the buildings but "as for the outlying areas (such as parking lots), that would be totally impossible," Williams said yesterday.
Asked if the custodians were watering the plants next to buildings, Williams said that in many cases sprinklers and hoses have disappeared.
"There's going to have to be some more friendly discussion" on the subject," Williams conceded yesterday.
"Supervisors Joseph Alexander (D-Lee) and Audrey Moore (D-Annandale) echoed Magazine's complaints yesterday saying that greenery around county buildings in their districts is also dying for lack of watering.
"I get so exasperated," said Alexander, the plant's are going to the dogs, literally."
"Somehow, we have to assure that the grounds are kept up around county buildings," Magazine said.
In some areas, the discussion about who will do the watering is drowned out by government decree that there will be no outdoor watering at all.
"In Fairfax City, you'd better not water anything anyway," noted Royce, referring to the city government's ban on outdoor use of water because of low water supply.