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Concrete makes way for blooms.

Byline: JEFF WRIGHT The Register-Guard

Jeff Lanza calls it "curb appeal," and judging by all the people who have stopped to admire and take pictures, it's working.

He's talking about the curb space along Third Avenue and Lawrence Street - a formerly all-concrete right-of-way between street and sidewalk that now boasts 15 young trees surrounded by crimson clover, orange poppies and several other lush species.

The plantings are a joint project of the nonprofit Eugene Tree Foundation, the city and the property's owner, Jenova Land Co.

Lanza, a tree foundation board member, works as a landscape architect at Stangeland & Associates, whose offices are on the northeast corner of Third and Lawrence, kitty-corner from REI.

When Lanza first floated the idea of improving the right-of-way, the city said it didn't have the money. Jenova Land Co., meanwhile, concluded that the city's requirements for improving the space, including engineering costs, would be prohibitive.

So a deal was struck: The city would provide the engineering and labor, then forward its bill to Jenova.

The young trees, including Oregon ash and big-leaf maple, were planted along Third and Lawrence last spring. The beds were seeded last spring and early this year with a mixture of perennials and self-reseeding annuals, including ox-eye daisies, tall camas, lupine, alfalfa, red-flowering currant, Oregon grape and more.

"It's an alternative approach to commercial landscaping, especially in the public right-of-way," Lanza said. "We want to see more life in downtown, and we feel we can do better than the conventional bark mulch and lawn."

What's neat about the curb life is that it keeps changing as the various species fade and flourish in response to their natural seasons and the amount of tree shade provided.

"It will look different from what's there now in two weeks and in two years," Lanza said.

In addition to better aesthetics, the plantings make functional sense, he said. The low-maintenance project involves no fertilizer or pesticides and very little water, he said.

"It gives more than it takes," he said.

The project could have died when Jenova discovered it also needed to upgrade much of the worn-down curb to city standards. But Jay Fox, Jenova's property manager, said the company decided to go forward.

"It was all concrete down there, and not real inviting for customers or prospective tenants," he said.

Fox said the city sent a bill of $11,000 for its work and Jenova paid another $10,000 for additional landscaping improvements, including extending the beds along a stretch of Lawrence south of Third.

"It was great working with the city," he said. "It was a very competitive bid, and we didn't have to do any engineering work."

Urban forester Mark Snyder said the effort is part of the city's informal "trees for concrete" program. Previous projects are located on the corner of 11th Avenue and Pearl Street, and in front of the downtown Eugene Post Office.

CAPTION(S):

THOMAS BOYD / The Register-Guard Urban landscaping has taken root at Lawrence Street and Third Avenue.
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Title Annotation:Environment
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:May 4, 2002
Words:501
Previous Article:Up on the roof.
Next Article:For the Record.


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