Responding to complaints from residents, the Wadsworth school board has agreed to eliminate the “no mow” areas in front of the high school and other new school buildings.
Tall shrubs, grass and wild flowers that haven’t been cut in 2½ years eventually will be replaced with a more conventional grass landscaping.
“It just is not the appearance that you want people to see,” Superintendent Andrew Hill said. “It comes across as the district not keeping up with the grounds, but that’s just not true.”
The overgrown “no mow” and “low mow” areas were part of the architecture plan for the high school and three elementary schools, which opened in 2012.
The overgrowth was included in the plan because it was more environmentally friendly and also to cut mowing costs, school officials said.
“It was a decision of the prior administration,” board member Amanda Gordon said.
The “no mow” and “low mow” areas also helped meet a Silver Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification for the buildings.
The buildings exceeded expectations and achieved a Gold LEED status thanks to other energy-saving strategies, like automatic dimming light fixtures and computer-monitored air conditioning, included in the architecture and design, board member Dave White said.
“At the time, the ‘no mow’ areas seemed like a good idea,” White said. “But it looked like an eyesore.”
The board received comments and concerns from community members about the property looking unkempt, Gordon said.
Monday’s vote to replace the “no mow” areas was close, with only three of the five-member board in agreement.
Julie Batey was one of the two members who voted against mowing the areas. She said the architecture plan suggested the “no mow” areas would take three to five years to completely develop.
“I wanted it to fully mature before we made a decision, so we could see what they’re really going to look like in three to five years,” she said.
Batey also said the removal and replacement of the landscape will “have a cost factor.” She said because of the way the “no mow” areas initially were planted, the grounds crew can’t simply mow over them. She said the weeds and other growth need to be dug up before traditional grass can be planted.
The board has not made a decision on when or how to get rid of the overgrowth, but members are looking into cost estimates.
Hill said the board conducted a community meeting last September seeking feedback on whether to keep the overgrowth, but opinions were split.
“Rarely do you have a decision that everyone in the community agrees on,” he said.
Hill said there may be an opportunity to relocate a “no mow” area to one of the elementary schools, but “it’s a future discussion” that the board has not yet scheduled.
Contact reporter Katie Anderson at (330) 721-4012 or firstname.lastname@example.org.