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Possible Longview, TX Arboretum - With Community Input

  • Subject: [cg] Possible Longview, TX Arboretum - With Community Input
  • From: Adam36055@aol.com
  • Date: Mon, 21 Feb 2005 09:24:16 EST

Horticulturist says possible Longview arboretum land well-suited for project.
With local community gardener involvement, who knows what could be created
there, from the very beginning!

Adam Honigman
Volunteer,
Clinton Community Garden

By KATHERINE SAYRE
Wednesday, February 02, 2005

The 28 acres of land southeast of Maude Cobb Convention and Activity Center
could be converted to a green native plant arboretum, a botanical garden
bursting with colorful blooms, or a combination of the two, a horticulturist
told
community members Tuesday.

City and county officials, gardening enthusiasts and other community members
gathered at the activity center to hear the city's options in developing a
Longview arboretum. David Creech, a horticulture professor at Stephen F.
Austin
State University, was hired by the city and county to develop an arboretum
master plan on 28.62 acres of city-owned flood plain land.

Creech told the more than 100 people gathered that in his initial study of
the plot, he found that the site has a lot of advantages, including a good
location visible from major thoroughfares, plenty of parking spaces for
visitors
and land optimal for plant life.

The options for what an arboretum in Longview would look like, he said, are
plenty, and those decisions b such as what kind of theme gardens to install
b
should be left up to the community.

"I call it the hook," Creech said. "What's going to separate the Longview
arboretum from other arboretums across the South?"

Other public gardens and arboretums have featured children's gardens,
butterfly and hummingbird gardens or rose gardens.

A key factor for the community is planning a vision for the arboretum for
years to come, he said.

"That's the beauty of an arboretum," Creech said. "When you plant a tree,
you're looking at the long haul."

Creech founded SFA's Mast Arboretum in 1985, working to develop the site from
an 8-acre garden to a 60-acre site that attracts 30,000 visitors each year,
bringing $495,000 in spending to Nacogdoches.

He said the Mast Arboretum brings together many community groups, including
school groups and children's camps to educate children, and a Longview
arboretum could team up with local high schools or LeTourneau University.

"That's what most of these arboretums and botanical gardens across the state
are doing," Creech said. "They're becoming compatible with the way we educate
our kiddos."

The proposed site in Longview is large enough for development, an important
point to attract tourists from outside the area, he said.

"People won't drive two and a half hours to spend 20 minutes," he said,
adding that in order to attract tourists, an attraction needs to offer
visitors
between four and eight hours of activity.

Creech handed out questionnaires asking for opinions on types of plants and
gardens community members would like to see in addition to any comments or
suggestions for the plan.

He said he's going to use the input in developing a final plan, which he'll
present during another meeting in a few months.

Dencil Marsh, a Longview resident for 45 years, has spearheaded the efforts
to start an arboretum. He estimated the costs for the project at around $2.5
million, not all of which would have to be raised in the beginning.

At Tuesday's meeting, Marsh said he was pleased with the turnout for the
first meeting, and encouraged everyone to keep supporting the project.

"The time is now," Marsh said. "The door is open."

Laura Windborn, a Longview resident and president of the local chapter of the
Texas Master Gardeners' Association, said her group fully supports a Longview
arboretum, and they look forward to helping with the project.

"I think it's an exciting idea, and it has just so many possibilities,"
Windborn said.


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