Downtown Slated for Beautification

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Thanks to an expected grant from the state of Mississippi, Meridian plans to plant 89 willow oak trees on 22nd Avenue between A Street and North Frontage Road. They will be set about 40 feet apart and at maturity their spread will be about 30 feet.

The total cost of the project is about $34,000. The city's cash share will be only $5,000.

Senior planner Kevin Locke said the grant has not been received.

"It will be funded September/October. We'll find out if we've received grant funds and then we'll proceed from there," Locke said, showing council members an artist's drawing of what it would look like.

"We propose to plant in the fall, late fall, early spring and prior to that, public works will have about a two to three month time frame there to remove the existing trees and prep the site so we're looking at, it has to be done before April of next year," said Locke.

All trees will be willow oaks that could eventually grow to 60 feet tall. Willow oaks are shaped like a pyramid in their youth, developing a dense oblong-oval to rounded crown at maturity.

Locke said they will be very attractive and will change the look along the street.

"Well, I think there will be more emphasis on it being a main corridor into the city and to the downtown," said Locke. "Currently we have small species trees that don't have as much emphasis and this would be more of a unified 22nd Avenue with all the same species of tree lining both sides."

The leaves on willow oaks are light to bright green in the spring, changing to yellow, yellow brown and russet red in the fall.