Beautifying downtown Union

UNION — A committee of community advocates is looking to join with the City of Union, Union County and other local groups and organizations to beautify downtown Union.


According to a report prepared for Union City Council by Mayor Harold Thompson, the Union County Community Vibrancy Committee was formed Jan. 1, 2015 with the goal of working with the city and the county “to improve, enhance and beautify the downtown area, parks and recreation areas to its utmost potential. The committee plans to do this through the use of arts and culture, green space development and other creative projects.”


Union County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Torance Inman is a member of the committee and he addressed council Tuesday evening. Inman described the committee as being “made up of community advocates representing a broad segment of leadership across Union County.” In addition to Inman, the committee’s membership currently includes Ola Jean Kelly, Robert Garner, Curtiss Hunter, Graham Williams, Annie Smith, Mary Ann Miller, and Brad Greer.


Inman said the committee plans to expand through the recruitment of other community advocates from throughout the county including neighborhood groups, non-profit organizations, and from the business sector. He said the committee believes that “through partnerships and collaborations, individual groups and organizations can be empowered to bring their great ideas for community vibrancy to fruition.”


To begin this process, Inman said the committee “has taken on an effort to support the City of Union’s need for streetscape ideas related to the replacement of trees on Main Street.” Inman described the trees as being in “various degrees of distress and disease and need to be replaced.”


“We’re looking to replace them where appropriate,” Inman said Friday afternoon. “In the areas where trees are not appropriate we will fill those with planters, possibly fountains and/or public art.”


The replacement process as proposed by the committee would come in the following phases:


Phase One


• Remove existing trees


• Remove stumps and roots manually with care to be taken as to not damage sidewalks and electrical systems while removing as much of the wood as possible.


• Reestablish the top soil in each planting square with topsoil and nutrient based solutions to stabilize and sustain growth.


Phase Two


• Replace trees at appropriate locations. The replacement tree species may vary somewhat dependent on location such as intersections versus sidewalk areas.


Phase Three


• Add public art, fountains, floral islands or planters where tree replacement is not feasible.


In its proposed plan, the committee recommends getting the assistance of Clemson Extension in refurbishing the soil base at each location. It also recommends using local nurseries to supply and plant the replacement trees. The committee also recommends using the local Master Gardeners group to plant floral islands and planters. It further recommends establishing a campaign to identify the type of public art that would be supported by both the city and the county as a whole.


Inman pointed out that the committee is committed to working with “the City of Union, surrounding municipalities, Union County and its neighborhoods to make Union vibrant and prosperous. The committee hopes to help create a unique sense of place throughout Union County.”


Council voted unanimously to authorize the committee to proceed with its efforts to develop its plans and bring them back to council for approval.