$500,000 for 'unsightly' East St. Louis landscape project

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by Chris Nagus

KMOV.com

Posted on February 3, 2011 at 2:46 PM

Updated Wednesday, Nov 13 at 3:42 PM

Curb appeal is important when you're trying to sell a home, but is it important enough to add nearly $500,000 worth of curb appeal at low-income apartments? Keep in mind this landscaping project is taking place in Illinois, a state that is billions of dollars in debt.

News 4 discovered a massive landscaping project in East St. Louis that is overgrown, and in many instances dead.

The executive director of the East St. Louis housing authority says the project was designed to modernize several low-income apartment complexes. Elizabeth Tolliver admits the project does not look good, and it needs to be corrected.

The former mayor of East St. Louis, Bill Mason, got the contract to do the landscaping project. Mason runs a contracting and landscaping business in East St. Louis, and he says many of the plants died due to extreme summer heat. Mason also says he was hoping some of the residents would pitch in and water the plants in front of their apartments, but for the most part, that did not happen.

The first phase of the landscaping project cost taxpayers $263,504. The second phase of the landscaping project is about to start, and it will cost taxpayers an additional $224,405. The majority of the funds are stimulus dollars.

We also discovered the project did not include a weed barrier, so even the shrubs that are still alive are overgrown with weeds. In some areas, fresh mulch was added, but the mulch was tossed right on top of the grass without removing the sod below.

Bill Mason says he plans to go back and replant all of the trees and bushes that have died; the housing authority says it's required in the contract. Elizabeth Tolliver said, "yes we made mistakes on the first side, but we are not going to make those mistakes on the second side. We will come in and correct this."

Have you seen something in the community that has you asking "Is this why we're broke?" 

 

 

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