Basalt beautification hits snag |

Basalt beautification hits snag

Beauty, often regarded as only skin deep, may only be bark deep in Basalt.

A citizen’s effort to try to spruce up the town’s main street by planting an estimated 20 ornamental trees has hit at least a temporary snag. Some members of the Town Council suspect that the “right” trees weren’t selected.

The effort to boost Basalt’s beauty is being headed by resident Charlie Cole. He has pledged to raise the funds necessary to plant a variety of ash, maple, fruitless crabapple, Hawthorne and possibly linden trees on Midland Avenue.

Cole said it the beautification effort started as one of those “wouldn’t it be nice ideas” that evolved into action.

In return for providing the trees, he asked the town government to cover the costs of saw-cutting the concrete, digging holes, purchasing tree grates and guards as well as watering for the first couple of years.

Cole reported to the Town Council last week that the proposal was well received by almost all business operators and property owners in the Midland Avenue commercial core. Only a few objected to trees being planted in front of their buildings. They won’t be forced to participate.

The concept was also well received by the Town Council, though two members questioned the details. Councilman Chris Lane said he preferred native vegetation – even in the commercial core.

Lane, a dedicated environmentalist, said one of his concerns was that non-native trees might attract non-native species of birds. He also wants the town to set a precedent by planting only trees that need low levels of water.

Both requirements, he claimed, are in the town’s recently completed master plan.

Lane said the town shouldn’t just use trees that are aesthetically pleasing. The trees must also “enhance ecology,” he said.

But Cole noted that using native trees might not do much to make Basalt more beautiful. The native aspens, for example, are essentially “weed” trees that don’t produce much shade, he said. Native evergreens aren’t all that ornamental – at least not downtown – and produce year-round shade that can result in icy sidewalks during the winter.

Lane wasn’t swayed by those arguments. He proposed that the town pay Basalt permaculturist Jerome Osentowski to look at the proposed trees in the beautification plan and made recommendations.

Councilman Jon Fox-Rubin seconded that direction and it was ultimately agreed to by the entire board.

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