For several years now we have seen Ridgeway as the “tail wagging the dog” with all of the wonderful activity and street appeal those dedicated merchants and residents have worked so hard to produce. They have enhanced their once ghost town streets into a vibrant attraction for visitors and citizens to enjoy.
Downtown Winnsboro is beginning to take advantage of its charm potential with some recent shops and restaurant venues added to our Congress Street. It seems that it takes newcomers to a community to see potential and step out of the box to revive a dying place like ours. I would like to commend those of you who have stepped up to the challenge in downtown Winnsboro.
I would like to ask the town government to step up to the bat to revive the streetscaping work that was done some years ago with a downtown development grant. Gone are the faux brick paver crosswalks; peeling is the black shiny paint on the street lamps; and rusting out are the trash/ash receptacles. A number of the park benches have had to be removed as vagrant attractors and so on.
Saddest of all are the dead and dying zelkovia trees that were planted to hopefully provide some shade and autumn color to our glaringly white concrete sidewalks. The trunks on many are scarred from accidents with cars, poor maintenance practices of leaning the heavy iron grates against them, and perhaps vandalism.
Now is the time of year to replant them. I, for one, would love to see some of those glaring curbed “bumpouts” planted with old shady oak trees or better yet, a tree planted central pedestrian island down the middle of our Mississippi-wide four-lane main street. Aiken, Newberry, Greenville and Beaufort are a few nearby towns where the beauty of downtown areas is purposefully maintained as shady lanes.
The environmentally reinforcing effects of vegetative shade assist in cooling the pavement and buildings in summer and attracting pedestrians to frequent the commercial establishments. Encouraging more walkers speaks to medical benefits for our populace also. The town tree board was set up a few years ago, but apparently not given the authority or resources to do much other than rubber stamping tree removals.
One thing the town is doing right is in professionally maintaining the large planting containers. The seasonal changing of annual plants and small shrubs has been commendable. And thank you, God, for the health of the zelkovia tree just in front of the museum where I work. I have enjoyed its beauty across the seasons.