The city of Pekin is replacing the once beautiful flowers that decorated its downtown but fell to the to the insatiable appetites of Japanese beetles that besieged the area this summer.

City workers removed all of the flowers that were dead or damaged by the pests and on Friday started replacing them with mums. Some of the flowers survived the bugs.

The city on Thursday moved some of the flower planters from downtown streets to Derby Street. Each downtown-area block will retain six planters total — three on each side of the street – with the exception of a small triangle area on Court Street.

City Planner Katy Shackelford said some of the planters needed to be moved.

“They’ve served their purpose because the original reason we put those flower pots out (in 2015) was to build the streetscape,” said Shackelford. “They added a lot of vibrancy. There’s somewhere around 49 of them total.

“This year we opened the sidewalks to more street furniture,” Shackelford said. “We added benches and in some locations we had too much furniture for clearance for ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) accessibility. So what we did, we looked at all of the planters that were out there, especially those that might be blocking ramps and any that were close to street furniture that other businesses were putting out where we put the benches.”

Seven planters were relocated to Derby Street, where the city’s new beautification project is slowly taking off.

“We only moved seven to another location on Derby Street because we want to have that same effect now on Derby,” said Shackelford. “We start with the pots and beautification and move on to the next step.”

The flower planters were purchased with TIF funds. The city has repaid the TIF fund for the planters that were moved from the downtown TIF.

The city recently sent out workers to spray and pull weeds, clean the area and paint crosswalks. Tazewell County crews striped Derby Street. The city contracts with the county for that work.

Pekin City Manager Tony Carson said several bids have been received for the study of Derby Street. The study will look at the area’s needs, assets, and future for better serving residents, visitors and businesses who use the street regularly. The city will accept one of the bids soon, said Shackelford. The study must be completed by July 2018.

The city received a $25,000 federal grant through the Tri-County Regional Planning Commission’s Peoria/Pekin Urbanized Transportation Study to conduct the Derby Street analysis. The city is only paying $2,500 of the study’s cost.

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