Many of the trees - like this one - along downtown Main Street have had to be removed because they've exceeded their life spans. The city now plans to plant new trees and hang flower baskets on Main, from Green Street to Elizabeth Street.
- $80,000 project
- 45 trees
- 50 hanging baskets
HED: New trees, flowers for Tupelo downtown streetscape
- A state grant will help pay for new trees and hanging flower baskets.
By Emily Le Coz
TUPELO - Downtown Main Street will get an $80,000 facelift within the next year when the city replaces the major thoroughfare's 35-year-old landscaping with a new scheme that calls for fresh trees, lighting and flower baskets.
The project will span from Green Street to Elizabeth Street. It could start as early as this autumn but might not get under way until next spring, said Terri Blissard, the city's grants writer, who applied for and received a grant to finance 80 percent of the project.
The City Council on Tuesday formally accepted that grant from the state Department of Transportation. The city will fund 13.5 percent of the project costs, or $11,000, with Downtown Tupelo Main Street Association's providing the remaining 6.5 percent - or $5,000.
"The project came from a desire on the part of the city to do landscaping on Main Street," said Jim High, assistant director of the local Main Street association. "Many trees have died and had to be taken down. Of those remaining, some are very large, some are very small. Some uniformity needed to occur."
The project will tie together historic downtown Tupelo with the new Fairpark District, a 50-acre urban renewal project just east of the Kansas City Southern railroad tracks.
Forty-five Alba Magnolia and Serviceberry trees will be planted along both sides of the street in raised beds surrounded by custom-built boxes. Each box will have a lighting fixture to illuminate the trees at night.
They will replace the existing collection of Bradford Pears and Little-Leaf Lindens, many of which have exceeded their life spans and whose root systems have interfered with underground infrastructure.
"The problem is those trees are planted right into holes dug into sidewalks that are level with the street, and the roots are getting into sewer lines and utility lines," Blissard said. "Plus the existing tree beds are shallow and poorly drained, so that's stunting growth."
Public Works operations manager Sid Russell confirmed that the roots have wrapped themselves in electrical lines and that removing dead trees has become a problem.
That's because the existing trees had roots that spread out, Blissard said, adding that the two new species were selected in part because their roots go straight down.
The new landscaping also includes irrigation and 50 hanging baskets that will contain an assortment of seasonal flowers.
"These will not be little flower pots hanging on street poles - these will be big, eye-catching baskets, with colorful and hearty flowers," Blissard said. "It's going to be gorgeous. I think the impact down the street will just be speculator."
Contact Daily Journal city reporter Emily Le Coz at 678-1588 or email@example.com.