With growth comes new people, new neighborhoods, and, now, new trees.
As part of Fuquay-Varina’s efforts to spruce up its downtown and make it more pedestrian- and development-friendly, the town is in the midst of removing trees that have lined Main Street for decades and replacing them with a variety of new ones.
Brickman LLC, the contractor responsible for the improvements, has been making its way up and down the main streets of downtown during the last few weeks, closing portions of the sidewalk during the work day and reopening them for evening use. The town appropriated $177,000 for the project in January.
The recently planted saplings are species picked for their hardiness and suitability for semi-urban environments, said Parks Superintendent Chris Newsom. They include lacebark elm trees, single-stem crepe myrtles and American hornbeams.
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“The maple trees that we’re removing, they were in decline,” Newsom said. “The downtown is a huge part of the town, and we want downtown to look great. They didn’t look the best.”
Fuquay-Varina consulted with area arborists to find tree species that would thrive in highly trafficked areas without impeding access to storefronts or damaging the surrounding sidewalks. The town chose trees whose root systems extend downward, primarily, rather than outward, allowing the tree to take full advantage of the limited soil area, about 3-feet-square, through which water can permeate.
Part of the project involves excavating subsurface pavement and providing greater soil depth for the new trees, according to the town.
Mayor pro tem Blake Massengill said the tree-replacement efforts, which Newsom estimates would be complete in the next two or three weeks, are part of a larger effort of the town’s to revitalize its downtown areas.
“Over time, businesses have shifted a little bit, and some had trees directly in front of an entrance to a shop,” Massengill said.
Fuquay-Varina is in discussions with the Development Finance Initiative, a consultancy run out of the UNC School of Government, to restructure its downtown. Projects, like the one currently underway, are meant to make the town more attractive to developers and show Fuquay-Varina is willing to invest in the area itself, Massengill said.
The town is also offering matching grants up to $2,500 to businesses looking to spruce up their signage and awnings within town guidelines. About a dozen businesses have taken advantage of that program so far, Massengill said.
Gargan: 919-460-2604; @hgargan