SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – The City of Santa Fe is having a hard time keeping up with all the weeds on its hundreds of medians. Now, the city is promoting its parks team in an effort to more than double its current workforce. It’s a big job that requires attention to detail. The responsibility of cleaning up 575 medians rests in the hands of five park employees.
“That comes down to about 118 miles of roadside and median maintenance. So these guys, basically in a full cycle, that’s like walking a full trip to Albuquerque and back,” one worker said in a short video posted to YouTube last week.
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Acting Parks Division Director, Melissa McDonald, says they’re short-staffed and would like to more than double the workforce to help cover the whole city faster. “We kind of just go constantly around and around so never really get all of them because they grow,” McDonald explained. “Like everywhere else, we’re really having a hard time getting regular, seasonal employees in.”
One effort to help recruit was recently promoting the department in the YouTube video. In part, this comes in response to a surge in complaints that overgrown weeds are a bad look for the city that welcomes thousands upon thousands of tourists.
“We always get a steady flow of customer concerns and we like to be responsive. So this is really just about educating the people about what we do, how we do it, how we can improve,” McDonald stated.
The city even launched a Special Weeds Action Team which is xeriscaping some of the hard-to-maintain medians and covering others with cement.
Just a couple of years ago, Mayor Alan Webber said the city was playing catch-up on its medians and re-assessing its Adopt-a-Median program after many companies didn’t hold up their end of the bargain to maintain them.
“We work closely with Keep Santa Fe Beautiful and they have revamped that program and now it’s a little bit more like a sponsorship program, so the people who are taking care of it often hire landscapers,” McDonald said.
People can even check where they’ll be working next with the median tracker on the city website. The city is hoping to start up its Special Weeds Action Team meetings again soon.