HARTSVILLE, SC (WMBF) - The City of Hartsville continues its beautification projects all around the downtown area. The parking lot on east College Avenue in between the Coker College entrance and 5th Street is where four large oak trees stood. They were torn down on Monday to make way for a newly paved parking lot.
This is the beginning of a new phase in transforming College Avenue. The reason for tearing down the trees came when overgrown roots started to tear up parking spaces, and in some spots you couldn't park in the lot at all. The most important thing Russell Cox, the Public Information Officer for the City of Hartsville says, is the trees will be replaced. The entire parking lot will match the recently new lot right across the street. From the lights to the landscaping, and all of the new replanted trees will be Chinese Elm trees.
"While no one wants to see the trees come down, the trees were to a point where they could not work with the parking lot. Yes they are being removed, but more importantly there are trees going in their place. Trees are a very important part of this downtown," Cox said.
Cox says College Avenue is the heart of downtown and parking lots serve a lot of the businesses along the street. One of those businesses is Sophia's Pizzeria whose front doorstep is the parking lot with the oak trees. Thomas Roberts is an employee at Sophia's and he grew up in Hartsville. He remembers riding bikes around the large oak trees. "It's just one of those things it's sad to see happen, at the same time we're also happy to start developing downtown… It will definitely make it look a lot better. It will clean up this whole street, and hopefully get more business on this side and make Hartsville grow."
Another beautification plan on the agenda is taking a small alleyway city leaders are calling a 'pocket park', and plans to turn the space into something they can use. "There will be an iron gate at the entrance saying Mantissa Row with lights strung across, with tables and chairs going down, and it's just another inviting outdoor space in downtown Hartsville," said Cox.
"If we are always focusing on making downtown and the rest of Hartsville look the best it can that makes people want to be here, make people want to operate their business here, and relocate here. So these are all very meaningful pieces of what Hartsville is now and what Hartsville is going to be in the future."
Cox wants to assure everyone Chinese Elm trees will be re-planted in the parking lot behind me to replace the oak trees. The reason for that is those trees can grow and flourish without tearing up the concrete.