ORLEANS — DPW parks foreman Cheryl Esty got a boost from the Nauset Garden Club and the Orleans Improvement Association last week when the two groups helped to spruce up the village green.
“They’re fantastic,” Esty said of the volunteers who turned out Oct. 6. “I noticed that when they checked in and were assigned jobs, they went right to work. No complaints.”
The feeling was mutual. Esty “is a terrific lady,” said the OIA’s Nancy Jorgensen. “She does a great job.”
But the list of town landscapes that Esty must maintain with one other full-time and one part-time worker (positions are unfilled or limited to reduce hours due to the pandemic) is long and daunting, ranging from plantings outside municipal buildings to those at cemeteries, monuments, traffic islands, and conservation trails, among others.
“The weeding got behind,” said Esty, who has tried to keep up by hitting hot spots. “We got behind on trail work,” she said, noting that maintenance was “not up to my standards.”
Her standards have been applied as she’s worked for the town over the last 30 years. “It’s just so pretty here,” she said, “a nice little town. We’ve done a lot of improvements.”
There are some special spots she wishes people knew better. The area behind the Jonathan Young Windmill, for instance, has a picnic table where you can enjoy a takeout meal and an unbeatable view. There are benches with views at the Window on the Cove and Meadow on the Cove parks, too.
At last week’s cleanup, the volunteers were helping to get things back on track. Peggy Sheehan of the garden club wasn’t letting recent knee surgery stop her from weeding from her chair. “When it’s this bad, it will look better quickly,” OIA member Gary Bowden said as he dug in a nearby bed. “The soil is good under here. You just have to get the weeds out.”
Carol Alper, an OIA member who’s also president of the garden club, paused next to a wheelbarrow full of ragweed to note that the cleanup was the groups’ first joint project – and likely won’t be the last.
She said about 30 volunteers signed up to work shifts on Oct. 6. That’s the kind of support that’s needed in this challenging time.
“The town of Orleans has only one person dedicated to weeding,” Alper said. “It’s not just the green. She does places all over: the library, the windmill, up by the tennis courts. She’s one person, and weeds grow fast.”
Even as the town stretches to keep its landscapes maintained, more are being added. Esty and her colleagues have been asked to mow and trim 107 Main St., which the town bought with an eye to affordable housing, and some day plantings will be going in at the new DPW facility.