ELIZABETHTOWN — Things are about to get shady in Elizabethtown.
On Monday, town council members heard from staff about plans for the second phase of the downtown revitalization project, which they want to start by planting oak trees along West Broad Street.
“This project is an opportunity for us to do something amazing,” new Assistant Town Manager Pat DeVane said of Phase II. “We get compliments all the time about how good the downtown looks, and with this, we can extend that past Town Hall and to the Domino’s Pizza area.”
The first step in the second phase, according to DeVane, is streetscaping.
“We can get rid of utilities, but if we really want this to pop, we have to do the streetscape,” he said, adding that the location of the trees would determine everything else.
DeVane, along with Parks and Recreation Planner Rod Fritz, drew out conceptual plans for 18 oak trees to be planted along West Broad Street, including two in front of Town Hall.
“We’re not looking for any particular number of trees, but some on both sides of the road that would get us back to the canopy I remember as we rode through Elizabethtown,” DeVane informed the council. “That canopy gradually disappeared, and this will give us the opportunity to put it back.”
When Mayor Sylvia Capmbell pointed out the trees that formed the canopy, in addition to being diseased, were damaging the sidewalk and questioned whether these trees would do the same, DeVane said the town had a prevention plan.
“We’re not wanting to put them between the curb and the sidewalk, but behind the sidewalk with a 20’x20’ easement,” he explained.
A photo was shown of one piece of property along West Broad Street with a large oak in the front. Underneath the shade of the tree was an iron trash receptacle and antique-looking park bench sitting on a brick patio.
“We’ve talked about giving people naming rights on the trees, putting their name on a bench or providing the bench in memory of someone,” DeVane explained, adding they are hoping businesses, organizations, or individuals will be interested in sponsoring a tree.
Fritz added that staff were desirous of having trees on alternating sides of the road, but “are flexible” about the locations.
“I like the idea of park benches,” Councilman Rufus Lloyd remarked.
“I’m all for trees,” voiced Councilman Howell Clark.
When Councilman Ricky Leinwand questioned how long the trees would take to reach maturity and establish the canopy effect which the town is desiring to achieve, DeVane responded the project was “definitely a project for future generations.” When Leinwand further inquired about purchasing already mature trees, Fritz informed him the size of the tree determined the cost.
Town staff are hoping to begin construction on Phase II in the first part of 2018 and are in the midst of contacting property owners along West Broad Street to inquire about the easements.
Chrysta Carroll can be reached by calling 910-862-4163 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.