Maybe I watch too much HGTV, but the phrase "functionality over aesthetics" comes to mind when you take a look around at the fire hydrants that populate Rockford area front yards.

The hydrant you see above is the one in my front yard.

My lawncare supervisor, who also happens to be my wife Amy, does a wonderful job of grooming our lawn. She trims, she mows, she edges, she makes sure everything is well-watered and looking as good as she can make it look.

Everything that is, except for the ugly eyesore that is our fire hydrant. The same fire hydrant that last summer was the home of a nest containing (by my rough estimate) 12 million wasps living under the cap.

On a side-note, I don't know what 4 cans of Raid heavy-duty wasp killer does to paint, but that's about how much I sprayed on the damn thing trying not to be stung to death by wasps that were very angry about me being in their vicinity. I suspect they were also quite peeved by the fact their home really lacked curb appeal, what with the peeling paint and rust stains, not to mention the frequent "watering" by this dude:

Amy Jacobsen, Townsquare Media

But I digress.

The other day, my wife and daughter were outside enjoying the afternoon when a decision was made. "We're gonna go grab some paint, and spruce up that ugly-*** fire hydrant," they told me. "We're tired of it looking like there should be a truck up on blocks next to it." They then began discussing potential paint colors.

Normally, when a discussion starts about what color something around the house should be, I try to make myself scarce. Being married almost 30 years has taught me that there are two types of color selection. There's the right way, and then there's whatever I suggest.

Hold on, I said. Maybe we should take a look around the neighborhood and see if any of our neighbors are having the same sort of "crisis" with their fire hydrants before we do anything with ours. My wife agreed, and headed out for a walk to check the lay of the land, hydrant-wise. Here are a few shots of what she found:

Amy Jacobsen, Townsquare Media

Worse than ours.

Amy Jacobsen, Townsquare Media

Yeah, that rock really changes the whole look. The manhole cover is a nice enhancement, too.

Amy Jacobsen, Townsquare Media

Gonna need more foliage. We can still see it.

The bottom line is that our whole neighborhood has ugly fire hydrants, north to south and east to west. So, I figured that I would reach out to get the official word on whether or not we can paint our hydrant without having an up-close and personal visit from angry firefighters or cops.

I called the WROK Morning Show's favorite alderman, 3rd Ward Alderman Chad Tuneberg, and asked him if he could find out what the proper course of action would be. Chad got to work calling the people who would know about these things, and he got back to me in pretty short order.

Chad was told by a Deputy Fire Chief with RFD that "we can refer it to Public Works to have it painted if it's in poor condition. Our hydrants are all in the safety yellow color as a standard. Sometimes people want to paint them in a special way and that's not appropriate."

Another official told Chad "They cannot paint them. They are not on private property, and are city property. There is no specific ordinance regarding hydrants, but they don't own them, so they can't paint them."

Several others within City and County government said the same thing.

So, there it is. If you're tired of looking at a "rustic-chic" fire hydrant, call the City of Rockford Public Works department and let them know. I'm sure that they'll be delighted that I shared this information with you.

But don't take the paint into your own hands.

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