The city's green thumb for nearly a quarter century is off to greener pastures.
George Osborne, the city's parks and forestry superintendent, resigned last week after 24 years on the job. The 51-year-old left a $39,948-a-year job to work full-time for his established private landscaping business.
"He and his work are very creative," said Fred DeVictor, director of parks and recreation. "That's not going to be easy to replace."
Since 1970, Osborne oversaw unprecedented growth in the city's landscaping programs, leading to nearly a dozen national "Tree City USA" awards and several notable beautification projects, such as the flower gardens at 23rd and Massachusetts streets.
"He's a real expert," DeVictor said.
For now, anyway, Osborne's administrative responsibilities will be taken over by Tom Wilkerson, assistant director of parks and recreation. DeVictor said hiring a new superintendent could take six to 12 months.
In the meantime, three of Osborne's former assistants will oversee landscaping in areas including city parks, downtown planters, the Lawrence Public Library, Lawrence Arts Center and Lawrence Senior Center.