Local Government and Politics, News

Swampscott residents can adopt a traffic island

The "Adopt an Island" project has been revamped by Ana Lanzilli, Administrative Assistant to the Town Administrator and Board of Selectmen. (Spenser R. Hasak)

Swampscott residents can adopt their own island.

Well, traffic island that is. The “Adopt an Island” initiative is a community-based project with a goal of beautifying the town. Once run by the Department of Public Works, it is now a revamped operation run by Ana Lanzilli, administrative assistant to the town administrator and Board of Selectmen.

“We were talking about projects around town that needed revamping,” said Lanzilli. “Sean (Fitzgerald, the town administrator) and Peter (Spellios, Board of Selectmen chair) mentioned this project and said it could use a little TLC (tender loving care).”

Lanzilli and Sabrina Clopton, assistant director of the Swampscott Recreation Department, collaborated to research similar projects in Ipswich, Danvers, and Peabody over a period of several months. The first step of revamping the project was to create a list of guidelines for the project and implement them, said Lanzilli.

“Small changes can have big effects,” she said. “The project was not being cared for as it should be. The DPW isn’t able to maintain 31 islands. It would be extremely hard to keep up with all the time, given everything else the department has to keep up with.”

The guidelines include updated applications to submit, committing to a maintenance period of Jan. 1 to the first frost, which is when the adopted traffic island should be cleaned out, a listing of things residents can put in their islands, ensuring it is free of litter and weeds, and a promise to replant once flowers wither away.

The project also offers a preferred vendor for adoptees interested in getting a sign for their island, along with DPW requirements such as keeping it a certain color, with certain word choices, and under a certain height, said Lanzilli.

There will also be an island pageant where the 31 traffic islands throughout the town will be judged in July, with the announcement of a winner at the town’s Strawberry Festival, according to Lanzilli.

“These islands are first impressions when people come into Swampscott,” she said. “They are conversation-starting pieces as soon as people see the flowers or arrangements that residents choose.”

Aside from making good first impressions, the initiative is a way for families to work on the project together and create a sense of friendly competition between neighborhoods, said Lanzilli. Out of the town’s 31 traffic islands, there are seven up for adoption, but there could be more by the end of March if current sponsors choose to opt out.

There is no initial fee to adopt, said Lanzilli, but there are laid out estimates as to what it would cost to upkeep island maintenance for the season. It would cost about $300 for small islands, $500 for medium islands, and nearly $1,000 for some of the large islands.

“We are thankful for the residents who take on this project,” she said. “They are donating their time and money for that.”

More Stories From Swampscott