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Private donations, volunteer efforts bring new trees to Commerce Street

 

NATCHEZ — Eight new trees line the sidewalks around the 100 block of North Commerce Street thanks to donations and Saturday planting efforts of local Natchezians.

FOR Natchez Executive Director Chesney Doyle said the beautification of the central part of downtown is a detail outlined in the Downtown Master Plan — a recipe book for revitalizing Downtown Natchez that the city adopted last year.

Doyle said local business owner Kevin Miers spearheaded an effort to see part of that plan through by soliciting donations for operation “Clean Up Natchez” — which consisted of cleaning streets and planting new vegetation downtown.

“We did some looking around came up with the idea to plant eight new trees, because the 100 block of North Commerce Street had very few trees—only four. We asked the city to cut 8 new tree wells and told them that we’d take care of getting the trees and getting them planted.”

The Natchez Public Works department cut out the tree wells in the sidewalk while approximately 25 volunteers got their hands dirty. The group completed what was originally thought to be a two-day project in a single Saturday, Miers said.

Nellie Stevens holly, Japanese maple, crabapple, Japanese blueberry and cherry blossom trees as well as several flower plants were all purchased with $1,600 raised in donations through social media and by word of mouth, Miers said.

FOR Natchez facilitated the collection of donations so they’d be tax-deductible, he said.

“It was amazing that all of that came out of private donations from business owners and individual residents,” Miers said. “I was all volunteers who came out yesterday for Project Clean Up Natchez and brought trucks and shovels. … The center of the city at 100 North Commerce is a future art and design district and we want to get as many improvements going as possible, fill up the vacancies and get the block moving in the right direction.”

Miers said the project would also add beauty to the tree lighting ceremony that would take place Nov. 29 after Thanksgiving.

“A lot of people think of our downtown streets as parking lots but they’re not. They’re more like front yards for businesses,” Miers said. “When people realize it is their front yard, they want to make the best impression for shoppers, tourists and people who just enjoy downtown. This has been a huge pride-building project for all of the people involved. They now have their own little section downtown that they used to just drive through every day and have a sense of ownership of it.”

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