The streets of downtown Farmington are getting a new look thanks to the Downtown Development Association, US Bank and the city government. The Bradford Pear trees that have lined the streets of Columbia and Liberty streets for the past several years are being removed, and London Plane trees will be planted in their place.
The Downtown Development Association spearheaded the change after receiving several complaints from downtown building owners. While the Bradford Pear trees contributed to the beauty of the streetscape with their white blooms in spring and the shade they provided in summer, they were also causing some problems.
“Several of the building owners and merchants complained that the full, lower branches of the trees were scraping against their buildings and obscuring signs. The shallow root system was also causing damage to the sidewalks. Some of the trees had also died and need removing,” said Clinton Roberts, who headed up the planning committee to replace the trees. “We researched the types of plantings other communities had used and found that the London Plane trees were most compatible with an urban setting.”
US Bank, with a facility located downtown, contributed $1,000 toward the cost of the trees to help sponsor the beautification program. The city will remove existing trees and plant the new ones, and has purchased grates to go around the trees to protect them and make a more attractive setting.
“We are extremely grateful to US Bank for their very generous donation and their interest in the appearance of downtown,” said Roberts. “We hope that other businesses will be encouraged to follow their example by also making contributions to help pay for the 50 trees that were purchased.”
These type trees line Grand Avenue in St. Louis and are used extensively in many other cities both in the United States and Europe. The tree does bear small growths similar to the sweet gum tree. But, unlike the hard, spiny gum balls, these growths disintegrate when touched and require no more cleanup then an occasional sweeping.
London Plane trees are considered to be very urban-friendly as they have a deep root system that prevents sidewalk damage and the trunks grow taller before branching, thereby allowing a better sight line of building fronts while still providing shade.
“The lower branches will be removed for the first few years to encourage a taller trunk with sturdy upper branches,” Roberts explained. “We feel these trees will make a handsome addition to the downtown landscaping, and one that will eliminate problems for property owners.”