LIVONIA – After a week spent wondering, local residents found out Sunday afternoon what was under the tarp at the corner of Main and Commercial streets in the village.
“This project – if I tell you if it began 14 years ago, I am not exaggerating because there used to be a gas station there,” said Mayor Cal Lathan.
The “project” Lathan was referring to was a large flower planter made by students at Genesee Valley BOCES. The planter was unveiled this past weekend and will be a permanent addition to the village’s burgeoning art park.
Students in the metal trades program worked on the flower planter for months under the close eye of instructor Olie Olson. Students crafted the planter from metal that came from old farm equipment in the area.
“It is all old implements that we had retrieved from the area farms, in the different hamlets that make up the Livonia School District,” explained Olson. “A lot of the farms just have old implements that are no longer usable. I took a couple of Saturdays and, with the mayor, went and talked to a couple of the farmers.”
From there, students Nicholas Lasher, Matthew Stahl and Trevor Offhaus had to decide what to make with the metal. The trio said a flower planter was not the original idea.
“One of our challenges was deciding what it was going to be when we first got the parts,” said Lasher. “When we first saw this on the table, we thought we could turn it into a bench but things did not add up or sit correctly so we decided to go with a new idea which was a flower planter.”
Since late fall, the students along with Olson have been working on the project.
“It is really cool to see something that is like dying and bring it back to life,” said Lasher.
Once the structure of the flower planter was complete, students worked with local artist Kate Chesbro to make the piece more vibrant through the addition of color.
“I would say it is very important, it looks completely different now than when we originally saw it and it was just metal,” said Chesbro. “We were not sure what direction we were going to go in and I came up with about six different ideas and threw them at the guys and they picked this one.”
Bright colored sunflowers jump out of the carefully designed flower planter for all to see and enjoy.
“They liked the idea of the bright colors and the sunflowers, they thought that would be really eye catching here on the corner,” said Chesbro.
With it’s large size and giant flowers, many say the large planter is a welcome addition to the village.
“It does enhance the village and people have a lot of good comments. It has been covered for a week and you gotta believe that it has created some buzz,” said Olson. “Where they have it positioned is that there is not a bad angle to seeing this piece.”
Olson said he’s proud of the piece and the work his students put into making it.
“I do talk to the students about the importance of giving back to the community and the impact that they will have and how it makes everyone feel good,” he said. “They are using their skills that they have learned to create something that is going to be around for a lot longer than them being in my program. When they see it, hopefully it will bring back fond memories of being in metal trades.”