Thieves have been ripping off decorative shrubs and plants along South Sprague Avenue at the city’s recently enhanced “gateway” to Tacoma’s Central Neighborhood from Highway 16.
City and neighborhood officials reported this week that about 18 plants — including fothergilla, heavenly bamboo and sun roses — have been dug up and taken in recent days from the landscaping project meant to beautify the roadway and improve its safety. Two other decorative plants — a magic carpet and a jade winter creeper — were recently pulled up and left dead or damaged at the site.
Total value of the plants stolen or damaged wasn’t readily known Saturday.
City and neighborhood officials are now asking Central Tacoma residents to keep an eye out for plant thieves and vandals.
“Our community fought hard to get this change so now its in our hands to help maintain and protect it,” Justin Leighton, president of the Central Neighborhood Council, wrote in an email to neighborhood residents Saturday. “If you see something, please call the police and report it right away. Try hard to catch a license plate or description of the vehicle.”
Leighton added in an email to The News Tribune Saturday that he recently replanted some plants that were “ripped up by a car” that drove through a landscaped area. The city also replaced a panel of damaged fencing, he said.
“We have neighbors that are doing trash pick up, too,” Leighton said.
The ongoing South Sprague enhancement project has installed rain-gardens and more than a half-acre of landscaping so far along roadway shoulders, as well as a new Central Neighborhood sign and a traffic median to divide the arterial, which connects to on- and off-ramps of Highway 16.
The project is a collaborative effort of the Central Neighborhood Council, the city and other neighbors who tapped several grant programs and state funding sources to cover costs, including $25,000 from the state Department of Transportation.