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Green Features

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With all of the focus on "greening up" our downtown, it got me thinking:

What are the best types of:

1. Trees

2. Plants

3. Shrubs

4. Other green stuff

for a downtown area?

Are their certain types of trees that handle an urban setting better? What does the best job of removing pollutants from the air? What are other uses outside of making the landscape better looking?

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I know the streetscape trees are very difficult to keep alive for the first couple of years, so I was just reading in either the DDA or City Commission meeting minutes that they are looking at trying out this Tree Gator system, that slowly releases water at the base of the tree. Anyone heard of these?

4_treegator14.jpg

http://www.treegatordirect.com/junior/index.html

The Downtown Alliance also would really like to double their current budget to put in more planters with flowers, and almost create a "flower city environment" attraction to bring people downtown. Anyone have any ideas how they could raise funds to do this outside of their current tax collections? (corporate sponsorships, organizational volunteers, etc?)

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I know Boyne City received some monies from the Cool Cities program to add a number of planters / flower beds to the downtown area... They have 2 blocks done so far and are working on the third right now. It definitely made a huge improvement along the downtown 'strip'

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I know the streetscape trees are very difficult to keep alive for the first couple of years, so I was just reading in either the DDA or City Commission meeting minutes that they are looking at trying out this Tree Gator system, that slowly releases water at the base of the tree. Anyone heard of these?

4_treegator14.jpg

http://www.treegatordirect.com/junior/index.html

The Downtown Alliance also would really like to double their current budget to put in more planters with flowers, and almost create a "flower city environment" attraction to bring people downtown. Anyone have any ideas how they could raise funds to do this outside of their current tax collections? (corporate sponsorships, organizational volunteers, etc?)

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I'm still not completely sure how it works but I believe there is a voluntary tax that an area can take on to pay for improvements like these, as well as a property tax capture. I can only rember that they are called BIDS and SIDS.

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I'm still not completely sure how it works but I believe there is a voluntary tax that an area can take on to pay for improvements like these, as well as a property tax capture. I can only rember that they are called BIDS and SIDS.

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I am not sure how effective that this association is, but the column on the left of this web page has some great ideas. Could we do something like this in Grand Rapids? Better yet, does something like this already exist?

http://www.downtownloveland.org/about.html

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Aren't you paying on the SAD for the Wealthy Streetscape improvements???

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I believe you're thinking of a Special Assesment District (SAD) Jackson. A group of people can get together and request a special assessment district for things like streetlights, water mains, bike paths, streetscape improvements. The municipality floats a bond to cover the cost of construction which is divied up among the people in the SAD and ammortized in their taxes over a certain period of time (usually twenty years or so). Of course you can opt to just pay the assessment in one lump if you would like as well.

When I worked for West Bloomfield Township north of Detroit all of our municipal infrastructure extensions (water, sewer, & bike paths) were all by SAD's.

Aren't you paying on the SAD for the Wealthy Streetscape improvements???

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Several ways to work the donation/sponsorship angle for DT up-sprucing (pun intended):

--Adopt a planter. Similar to "buy a brick," the benefactor gets to admire his/her name on a plaquard. Revenue goes to existing resources (maintenance workers and vendors). This would be available to anyone whose name(s) would fit on the plaque.

How to determine the donor price point? Number of planters, or square footage, divided by a reasonable proportion of the budget, and rounded up to a nice number. For instance, the Bike GR map sponsorships (which which I am familiar) are $350 for a smaller ad, and $500 for a big one. Whether the "big" sponsors (The Rapid, Cycle-Safe racks) net $500 worth of benefit from their ads is debatable. I would think that all of the shops who chimed in at $350 netted that much return.

I would charge at least $100 - 300 for an urn (by the SOS office), $500 for the walled curb planter due east of SOS, and $1000-5000 for a high visibility locale like the CW statue fountain (which, IMHO, needs bigger and brighter plants than the short RW&B flowers and blue & grey foilage favored by the local re-enactors).

--Adopt a planter a la M-DOT. The benefactor gets to plant and/or maintain the planter, similar to M-DOT's trash-picking service clubs. (I would think that the local garden clubs would jump on this. Presently they spend hours at a certain botanical locale on the East Beltline, probably bumping elbows over the weed patches and trimming the lawns with manicure scissors.)

--In-kind donations. Your larger nurseries and plant retailers have many B-list items that just need a bit of TLC to be brought back. (What's presently planted along Monroe Center looks to be super A++ wedding caliber, if snapdragons can be considered to be a lavish plant.) They'd get a donor plaque, too.

Corporations always have a need for tax deductions and good will sponsorships, and it's likely that they'd load up the DTA with all the plants needed for a fraction of the retail price (or perhaps free). Why would Flowerland do this? Because it would attract shoppers to their stores, and because it's free publicity. I picked up some scratch & dent perennials this week for $1, and Flowerland (the one near Red Shield and Hobby Lobby on 28th Street) gave me others (intending to throw them out).

N. B. I am not picking (heh heh) on FL; my awareness of them is high thanks to their incredible streetscapes on 28th and on Alpine.

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The Adopt-a-Planter is a great idea! Provided it is not cost-prohibitive, I like the idea of having the donations fund the planters, and having the city maintain the planters, as it seems this would guarantee more consistent upkeep. The planters could just contain some low-maintenance shrubbery or the like.

How much do those adopt-a-brick things cost along the river near DeVos Place (I may be a block off here)? Some pretty big companies sponsored the large 1-ft x 1-ft. bricks, think if they sponsored one street on a city block!

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The effort expended by FL (Kentwood) to trick out their place. Yes, this little oasis is on 28th Street!

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The effort ends...

pict0016.jpg

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I was told that the Honey Locust tree is an excellent tree for urban environments because it provides good shade yet does not have a thick canopy of leaves so sunlight still gets through. Also, supposedly its roots go deep so it does not push up sidewalks like a maple or oak tree would. Can anyone "shed some light" on this?

I believe that there are some Honey Locust trees planted in the parking lot just west of the VA Arena next to the Bistro.

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With all of the focus on "greening up" our downtown, it got me thinking:

What are the best types of:

1. Trees

2. Plants

3. Shrubs

4. Other green stuff

for a downtown area?

Are their certain types of trees that handle an urban setting better? What does the best job of removing pollutants from the air? What are other uses outside of making the landscape better looking?

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I agree on the native plantings, I read that they do need the same care as any new plant for the first couple of years though, at least until they become established.

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I was told that the Honey Locust tree is an excellent tree for urban environments because it provides good shade yet does not have a thick canopy of leaves so sunlight still gets through. Also, supposedly its roots go deep so it does not push up sidewalks like a maple or oak tree would. Can anyone "shed some light" on this?

I believe that there are some Honey Locust trees planted in the parking lot just west of the VA Arena next to the Bistro.

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