Several downtown Dover flower pots destroyed

Potted flowers have lined Loockerman Street in downtown Dover for the past two years. (Delaware State News/Mike Finney)

DOVER — Flower pots filled with colorful plants that line Loockerman Street and the downtown Dover shopping district have welcomed visitors and shoppers to the area since they were put into place two years ago.

However, on Saturday night, one unnamed man decided to smash up around 20 or so of the flowerpots and turned many of them over onto the sidewalks and street off the north side of Loockerman, between Bradford and Queen streets.

Master Cpl. Mark Hoffman, spokesman for the Dover Police Department, said the man turned himself in to police at around 7 on Sunday night. He was charged with criminal mischief and disorderly conduct, both unclassified misdemeanors.

The act of vandalism and destruction left many downtown business owners furious.

“Vandalism as a whole is awful. It’s cowardly,” said Todd Stonesifer, owner of The Moving Experience on Loockerman Street. “People try to add nice things to make our city look beautiful — which most of the time, we have a beautiful city, we have beautiful residents — and one clown wants to go out and crash and break up our flowers, something that’s nice for everybody to enjoy.

“Whatever statement they’re trying to make didn’t come across.”

Tina Hudson-Beamer, owner of Tina’s Timeless Threads on Loockerman, said her customers enjoy seeing the flowers when they come to shop downtown.

“It’s a shame that somebody would go around and do that,” she said. “I think the flowers are great. They’re definitely a step in the right direction. … There’s a lot of other things we need to work on to get people downtown, but it’s a step in the right direction.”

An unidentified man, who turned himself in to the Dover Police Department on Sunday night, destroyed around 20 potted plants in downtown Dover on Saturday night. (Submitted photo)

Dover Mayor Robin Christiansen said the flowers belonged to the citizens of the city.

“I am greatly disappointed that someone would vandalize the people’s property,” Mayor Christiansen said. “Those flowers aren’t mine. They belong to all of the citizens of Dover. Just as the beautiful flowerbeds and trees in the city add to its character, these small flower urns added just a little more tranquility to otherwise trying times and symbolize the hope that we all have for the future.”

A Facebook post by Downtown Dover regarding the flowerpot destruction drew a whopping 522 comments by noon Monday.

“I mean, it’s just flowers. Don’t judge so quickly,” Josh Robbins wrote. “We all have bad days, and he might be dealing with personal issues. By turning himself in and owning up, he obviously has a conscience. We are all human!”

Erin Delaney wrote that an appropriate punishment should be community service.

“Community service, get him involved with growing his community rather than tearing it down,” she posted. “Show him what he has around him to love. At the end of the day, it’s just flowerpots. No one is dead from this. Show compassion.”

The 331 flower pots on Loockerman Street were the brainchild of the Destination Downtown Dover organization.

Amy Mullen, who was the events compliance coordinator for DDD when the flowers were put into place, said it was the collaboration of the downtown merchants that made it happen.

“Honestly, the flowers are doing much more than what you would imagine for just being there,” said Ms. Mullen, who is no longer with DDD. “They are beautiful from one end of Loockerman Street to the other.

“They’re actually doing what we wanted them to do, which was to bring a cohesiveness to Loockerman. It brings all the merchants together, and they’re very happy with the flowers and the beauty they have added to downtown.”

Upon their installation, Ms. Mullen said the flowers represent several things, such as the beauty of downtown; new life on Loockerman; cohesiveness of the east and west end of the street; what can happen when people put their minds to a task; collaboration between DDD and the city as it has agreed to the flowers’ maintenance; and the businesses of Dover, in the form of volunteers, coming out to participate.

The flowers, which consist of more than 1,800 plants — six to a pot — were grown at the Dogwood Glen Greenhouse, on Tower Road between Dover and Hartly.

The flowers were distributed by 11 Dover businesses, which included All Star Automotive, Tidemark Construction, The Moving Experience, Bel Boutique, The Loocke, Clear Lights, Union Home Mortgage, Embrace Home Loans, My Roots, The House of Coffi and Liberty Tax.

The flower pots and plants were purchased by DDD through beer festivals — History, Heritage and Hops, OktDoverFest and First Fridays — hosted downtown by DDD and its sponsors.

Proceeds from Destination Downtown Dover’s 13 annual events also helped the organization purchase blue and white “open” flags for businesses in the Loockerman corridor.

It was all that hard work to bring the flower pots to help beautify the downtown area that raises the ire of Mr. Stonesifer when he sees an individual try to destroy them.

“We have pride in our neighborhood, and one clown is going to ruin it for everybody else that’s enjoying it,” said Mr. Stonesifer. “Why? What’s the statement? What are you trying to get? What are you trying to prove? What are you trying to say? Say it. Come say it to me.

“There was no reason at all for it, and he should have to pay for all of the flower pots that he broke, too.”