I talk a lot about greenspaces; these are vital to have in any town. Both Wister and Heavener have a lot of great potential for green spaces.
Greenspaces include any open piece of land that is undeveloped and is accessible to the public. These can be anything from flat lawns to well-manicured gardens.
In Wister, I’ve always envisioned a series of green spaces connected together. The Wister Park is amazing, and provides a lot of recreation for the youth. From there, it would be amazing to have the area along the highway zeroscaped, then with a trail that leads to downtown. In the lots behind the post office, that would make for a great walking trail or dog park. As we continue work in Downtown Wister, this could really benefit the downtown district both visually and economically. (Did you know that by being next to a park, your property value increases an average of 20%?) Then from there, lead in to the Old Frisco Trail.
In Downtown Heavener, there are a lot of areas that are perfect for greenscaping. When coming in, there’s a large green space to the right that could serve as a beautiful central square. Construct sidewalks leading towards the center and around the outer edge and add in landscaping and it could become a popular destination point. Other areas include behind the library, then two more locations off First Street.
As when we built the Town Square in downtown Poteau, these areas could become hotspots, providing both a pleasing atmosphere and bringing life back in to these small towns.
Greenscaping isn’t just for downtown; it can be applied anywhere. Driving through Poteau, there’s a lot of older parking lots that resemble giant slabs of asphalt.
By breaking up the parking areas and adding trees and plants, you create a much more comfortable destination, provide shade, and help increase safety for pedestrians.
To completely landscape a parking lot could cost a fortune, but there’s many different ways of doing it. Concrete planter boxes could be purchased a few at a time and installed as funding is available.
By using xeroscaping techniques, this can be done in a way that reduces the need for expensive irrigation setups.
There’s a lot of things that we can do to make our towns look and feel better. One of the easiest and most cost effective is simply adding greenspaces where they would have the highest impact.
Since I mentioned it earlier.. What is Xeriscaping?
Essentially, it’s a way of landscaping that requires little irrigation and little maintenance. When I was taught, we were always told to try to use plants that were native to the region or are found in the same zone.
This is a pretty common practice in Florida, where I first began working on civic projects. (It was actually once part of the state statutes, but has been replaced with the “Florida-Friendly Landscaping program”) What I found was that it reduced costs while at the same time creating a much more enjoyable atmosphere. Through the years, I’ve tried to apply these same techniques to everywhere I’ve worked, and it’s always been beneficial.