ASHWAUBENON — The medians on Lombardi Avenue near Interstate 41 are teeming with perennials, shrubs and trees. It's all paid for by taxpayers.
In 2011, FOX 11 highlighted the state program used to fund the abundant plantings. It's called the Community Sensitive Solutions program.
Along Lombardi Avenue, the state used the program to plant 172 trees, 640 shrubs and nearly three-thousand perennials. Total cost: $248,400.
Some taxpayers weren't too happy at the time.
"Some of it might be a little over done when I hear the numbers and go oh my God, that many trees? That's a lot," Brown County Taxpayers Association president Richard Parins told FOX 11 in 2011.
But the state defended the spending.
"From the department perspective we think it strikes that right balance," Brian Roper from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation told FOX 11 in 2011.
Fast forward a few years and the area needed some work.
FOX 11 Investigates asked Mark Kantola from the DOT about who is responsible for the maintenance of the medians.
"The municipalities," Kantola said. "The state signs what's called a State-Municipal agreement and then once we're done with the construction project we sign off on it and then give them a letter saying it's yours. And they handle it from there."
In the case of Lombardi Avenue, that means the Village of Ashwaubenon.
The state and the village signed a maintenance agreement in 2011. In October of 2014, the state officially handed over responsibility for the landscaping to the village.
"It's beautiful but it is a lot of landscaping. It takes a lot of maintenance," said Ashwaubenon village president Mike Aubinger.
When the plantings were planned, Aubinger says he wasn't very excited about it.
"We had grave concerns about the number of trees and plants, etc. that they were proposing because we said we could not take care of them," Aubinger said.
According to an estimate by the village in 2011, it would cost taxpayers $22,821.80 a year to maintain the medians. But taxpayers aren't paying for it. And in fact, the village isn't taking care of the landscaping.
Aubinger says that's because early on in the process, the Green Bay Packers agreed to take care of the area.
The organization has hired a private contractor to maintain the landscaping. The weeds are being pulled, plants are being removed and the area is getting some much-needed TLC.
A Packers spokesman would not go on camera but in a statement said the team felt the landscaping "would provide a very visually appealing entrance to the area and offered to take over its upkeep..." The team says it is "...pleased to be able to contribute to this welcoming amenity."
Aubinger says he's happy the Packers are taking care of the plantings.
"I think they, like we, want a really nice gateway into the community," Aubinger said. "They want it to look nice and sharp. They're doing a big development project just down the road where Kmart, etc. When people come in they want it to be attractive to them."
Since Lombardi Avenue is a county road, the county is responsible for cutting the grass along the road and in the medians.