The City Council now is considering options for adding trees along Church Street northward from the Square, the aim being to make that stretch of sun-baked pavement and sidewalk more inviting.
The first option would plant about dozen trees between Mill and Polk streets with no loss of parking spaces and would cost between $48,000 and $72,000.
The second option would involve relocating the curb line on the west side of Church to allow for a wider sidewalk and landscaping. The lanes on Church would be narrowed to about 10 feet from 15. Project cost would be $151,000 to $226,000.
The third option would eliminate six parking spaces but would result in the planting of twice as many trees, at the cost of $84,000 to $126,000.
And the fourth option, the most radical, would result in a center median on Church, with the trees planted in the median. Cost would be $64,000 to $96,000.
It’s not clear which way the council is leaning.
“The tree plan, I think, in 1 and 2 are similar,” said Mayor Steve Tumlin. “What makes No. 2 more likable is the wider sidewalk. We like the pedestrians on the Square, so making it cooler, making it where you can walk on the Square I think is a big plus.”
He also likes Option 3, although Councilman Jim King has expressed fears that the divided road might confuse some motorists into thinking the one-way street is actually a two-way street.
That is a consideration. And it’s also possible that a median studded with (eventually) mature trees might present a traffic hazard.
The important thing at this point is that the council is finally giving serious thought to what should have been done years ago. That is, figuring out how to transform a sun-baked stretch of sidewalk into a shady, inviting shopping area that blends in with the streetscape surrounding Marietta Square.