Originally posted in the Santa Paula Times
Feb 26th, 2014
It’s real name might be arbutus unedo, more commonly known as a strawberry tree but whatever the moniker it sure is going to brighten up the small median at Highway 150/Santa Paula-Ojai Road and Saticoy Street.
Interim Public Works Director Brian Yanez said the Santa Paula chapter of America in Bloom planted the strawberry tree, a specimen in the family Ericaceae native to the Mediterranean region and western Europe north to western France and Ireland.
Whatever it is,Yanez said,“It’s planted right there at Barbara We b s t e r S c h o o l ,” d r e s s i n g u p w h a t for years had been a messy small area mostly bushes that at times looked like weeds.
The tree is only the first step: “America in Bloom is planning to put in some drought tolerant plans and a creek bed,” in the median highly visible by passing motorists.
Yanez noted the project is a joint effort:“Our part was to clear it,” by ripping out all that grew in the median and getting the earth ready for the landscaping to come.
West Coast Arborists donated the planted the tree, which Yanez said can grow as high as 30-feet but not be overwhelming.
“It’s kind of like a lollypop tree ,” used extensively by Caltrans for highway beautification
“Some strawberry trees are planted when you get off at Victoria Avenue inVentura,” said Yanez.
“This is what America in Bloom wanted so I just go with the flow,” and more readily when it’s low-flow as in saving water.
Such thinking will also be applied when the city embarks on the 10th Street Beautification Project, which is facing a June design deadline.
The city received a $600,000-plus Caltrans grant for the project that will range from under the Highway 126 underpass -where a mural is planned to welcome commuters-and continue north to Santa Paula Street.
Project enhancements include a mural for the Highway 126 underpass for a defined entryway to the city, street lighting, landscaping improvements for 10th Street facing areas of the Santa Paula Police station, City Hall, and Veterans Park, the latter which will include a bike rack and seating for cyclists. Sidewalk repair, trees, landscaping of museums and other improvements will transform the corridor into a work of art for residents and visitors alike.
Administered by the VenturaCountyTransportation Commission the project will also include crossing safety improvements, encourage safe pedestrian mobility and layout a bicycle path that will connect with the city’s famed recreational trail and further up through one of the city’s most historic residential areas.
“Our goal is to connect it to our Class One bike trail at Railroad Plaza and the Santa Paula bike lane,” said Yanez.
The city continues to work in partnership with America In Bloom on the proposed project.
Yanez said he is pleased that about five companies are bidding on the landscape design project.