Council axes tree planting plan

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 10, 2006

MURFREESBORO – Ben Franklin, or at least his foliage namesake, will not be hanging out on Main Street in Murfreesboro.

After weeks of debate, the town council decided to request the beautification committee find an alternative method of enhancing Main Street as the council unanimously decided against the concept of planting trees on the thoroughfare.

The Murfreesboro Downtown Beautification Committee had suggested planting Ben Franklin or Crape Myrtle trees along the Main Street sidewalks to further enhance the appearance of the town’s main boulevard.

The town council has been wrestling with several issues regarding the proposal for weeks.

Council members were concerned that roots from the trees could interfere with the wiring of the new street lamps that have been installed on Main Street and the trees themselves would offset the increased lighting the new street lamps afford downtown businesses.

Town Administrator Molly Eubank informed the council that she had initiated the process of getting approval from the Department of Transportation to follow through with the beautification committee’s plan to plant the trees.

The D.O.T. along with Dominion Power have the right-of-way to any infrastructure modifications on Main Street.

Councilman Lloyd Hill suggested the council advise the committee to explore other options.

&uot;I really do not see where there is room to allow trees to grow in the locations they propose we put them,&uot; Hill stated. &uot;I spoke to someone at Dominion Power and they informed me that the trees could easily absorb the lighting from the new lamps.&uot;

Councilwoman Gloria Odom agreed with Hill’s assessment.

&uot;I agree with Mr. Hill,&uot; Odom stated &uot;It’s not an issue of finance, but rather public safety and practicality.&uot;

Murfreesboro Mayor Lynn Johnson originally suggested the council allow the D.O.T. to conduct whatever research necessary to determine the feasibility of planting the trees before addressing the committee.

Councilwoman Sarah Wallace told her fellow board members that although she felt Main Street could use some enhancement she thought that the trees would disturb what had already been accomplished.

Eubank informed the council that the Murfreesboro Fire Chief wasn’t thrilled about the trees either.

&uot;The Chief said he was happy to have gotten rid of the electrical wires,&uot; Eubank said. &uot;He said the trees would just be another obstacle in the event of an emergency.&uot;

In other council news;

Robert Graham, engineer for Finch/Boney & Associates, informed the council that a consultant had designated additional acreage near the wastewater treatment facility as ‘wetlands’, clearing the way for the Army Corp of Engineers to re-evaluate the area so that the expansion of the new irrigation system could begin.

Graham said he was confident the newly designated areas would satisfy the EPA’s 201 facilities plan guidelines and would begin revising the map to include the required ‘buffer zone’ immediately.

The council agreed to accept the bid of Guardrail of Greensboro to install guardrails along the Holly Hill Road Dam corridor.

Graham informed the council that four bids were sent out to prospective companies and of the two offers submitted, the Greensboro firm was the lowest bidder by approximately $3,000.

Mayor Johnson recognized several town employees from the public works department who were on hand to be acknowledged for their work during the Watermelon Festival. Johnson praised the employees for their efforts and said they were instrumental in ensuring the event’s success.