Batesville Beautification

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 20, 2009

After an OK from the Batesville Garden Club, the City of Batesville hopes to move forward with plans to beautify the Highway 6 median at Interstate 55. The change would remove the Bradford pear trees, shown above in a photo, and replace them with crape myrtles and new lighting, shown at top in an artist’s rendering.

Garden club gives go-ahead for crepe myrtles

By Jason C. Mattox

With the Batesville Garden Club  declaring its approval, the City of Batesville finds itself in a holding pattern for now regarding proposed landscaping on the Highway 6 median at Interstate 55.

Batesville aldermen voted unanimously in October to install new lighting and crape myrtles along the highway median, action that would mean removing the long-standing Bradford pear trees.

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But that vote required the approval of the garden club, which planted the Bradford pears decades ago and which holds a permit from the Miss. Department of Transportation (MDOT).

Members of the garden club voted on March 11, in a 14-13 tally, to approve the city’s plan.

The issue has been a regular topic of conversation around the boardroom table in recent months after Mayor Jerry Autrey signed a letter of agreement to maintain the median on Highway 6.

“We want this to really be a showplace when people come into Batesville,” Ward 3 Alderman Stan Harrison, who encouraged the new landscaping, told The Panolian via telephone Thursday morning.

Harrison, who was elected last year, has supported beautification projects around the city.

The median could contain between 60 to 70 crape myrtles, he said. 

Ward 4 Alderman Bobbie Jean Pounders recently attended a garden club meeting to explain the city’s plans about the proposed beautification.

“Some of the trees were dying or in bad need of grooming, and they liked the proposal,” she said.

Pounders added that the Bradford pear trees, some of which were planted by members of the Batesville Garden Club as far back as 30 years ago, were a good thing for the town.

“They understand that when we get finished, it is going to look great,” she said.

With the vocal support of the garden club, the next step is for MDOT to remove the trees in the “immediate future,” Harrison said.

Harrison said once the trees are removed the new decorative light poles will be installed, along with their underground wiring.

“We have picked out a really nice post for the lights,” he said. “It is going to be really nice, and something people can be proud of.”

The new lights will be rented from TVA much like existing light poles within the city.

“I think everyone in city government wants this project to be one that makes people take a good long look and realize we are going to be moving forward,” he said. “We want to be more like Madison, Oxford, Olive Branch and Tupelo.

“This new landscaping will present the image of what Batesville wants to be,” Harrison continued. “This is really going to look good.”