• 77°

Tree planting project moves into downtown

Several Brookhaven streets are getting a spruce up thanks to astate transportation enhancement grant and cooperation betweenlocal agencies and business owners.

Approximately 400 trees are being planted with a $13,740Mississippi Forestry Commission (MFC) Transportation Enhancementgrant and local manpower help.

“The city has partnered with the appearance committee of thechamber to implement all of this. They’re doing a good job,” saidJimminette Phillips, appearance committee chairwoman, last weekwhile coordinating some of the work.

The grant, using funds from the Mississippi Department ofTransportation through the MFC, is available on a 75 percent state- 25 percent local match basis, said Resource Conservation andDevelopment Coordinator Bennie Hutchins, who helped the chambersecure the tree money.

“The city is providing in-kind contributions for its 25 percentmatch,” Hutchins said. “That’s mainly manpower and equipment.”

Hutchins said 20 different species of trees are being planted onHighway 51 from Brookway Boulevard to Industrial Park Road and onMonticello Street from Brookway Boulevard to the Hamilton Streetintersection. Some trees have also been planted in several placesalong Industrial Park Road.

“They did a screening in front of the (Multi-Use Facility)arena. The county and the city’s recreation department helped withthat,” said Phillips, while also mentioning a row of trees plantednear the North Jackson Street intersection.

Phillips expected the tree planting work to be finished sometimethis week.

“It’s ended up being a year-round project, from the time weapplied for the grant to getting the money and implementing it,”Phillips said.

Once the trees are in the ground, Hutchins said some mulch workneeds to be done, and some trees may need to be staked for support.He said only a few trees planted during a similar project last yearneeded stakes.

Phillips expressed appreciation to business owners who allowedthe trees to be planted in front of their establishments. While thetrees are on city right of way, she encouraged business owners tohelp maintain the trees, which will allow city crews time to focuson other street-related needs.

Brookhaven, which receives a transportation enhancement grantlast year to plant trees on the boulevard, has been used an exampleof how the funds can be used to improve the appearance of streetsand roads, Phillips said. Prentiss, McComb and some othercommunities are also benefiting from the grants, which were enactedon a three-year basis that is nearing an end.

“It’s a great opportunity for small towns that don’t have theresources,” Phillips said.

During a recent state level meeting, MDOT officials agreed toextend the project another year, said Dale Brown, publicinformation officer with the MFC office. He said MFC officials willtry to get a long-term commitment on the program next year.

“We’ve been able to see a lot more tree projects done throughthis program,” Brown said.

The Transportation Enhancement Tree Planting Program is one oftwo administered through MFC. The other is the Urban and CommunityForestry Assistance Program.

Brown said the urban forestry program, which is awarded on a50-50 state-local match basis, is geared more toward communityforest program. He mentioned that the program is helping with asmall portion of the Kids Kingdom community playground project.

The tree planting program, on the other hand, is less involvedand has the better local match requirements.

“It is more what communities are wanting,” Brown said. “It’sstrictly about planting trees.”

Brown was hopeful the program could be extended beyond nextyear.

“It’s been a real good program for the last three years and wehave helped a lot of communities around the state,” Brown said.