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Tree project focuses on downtown

Jul. 10, 2013 @ 08:58 AM

HUNTINGTON -- Crews have been out this week bringing a little more ambiance to the streets of downtown Huntington, in the form of solar-powered tree lights.

The lights are a project of the Downtown Huntington Partners, who have purchased them with funds raised through two "Progressive Dinners" that the group hosted last fall and spring.

Most of the lights will be along 4th Avenue, with some along 9th Street as well. They'll eventually stretch from 8th Street to Hal Greer Boulevard along 4th Avenue and from 3rd to 5th avenues along 9th Street. This week, the first phase is being completed, which includes lights on 4th Avenue between 8th and 10 streets, as well as lights along 9th Street between 3rd and 4th avenues.

"We're really excited about being able to do this," said Paul Davis, general manager of the Tri-State Transit Authority and president of the Downtown Huntington Partners.

"When you have lights in trees, it's inviting and magical and it invites you to walk through the downtown," said Amy Ward of the Downtown Huntington Partners. "Pullman Square has already been a community center, but since we can't put fountains in the middle of everything, we thought this would provide a safe, progressive atmosphere."

It's not easy to find commercial grade solar-powered lights, said Ward, a real estate agent in Huntington and founder of etromay, a free mobile app that helps iPhone and Android smart phone users connect with businesses and other organizations in Huntington.

Adell's Antiques owner David Coster, also a member of the Downtown Huntington Partners, said the solar, LED, halogen lights cost $35 a set, and there are two sets for each tree. The first phase of the project covers 24 trees, bringing the price tag to about $1,700 for this first go-around.

The group decided it was a good idea to see how well they work before going all the way down the street, said Tom Bell, executive director of the Huntington Municipal Development Authority.

"We want to make sure they're effective and durable," he said, adding that the city also has purchased a new sidewalk sweeper that's been put to work in the past couple of weeks.

The Downtown Huntington Partners' mission is to provide vision, support and promotion for the improvement of downtown Huntington. More Progressive Dinner events are planned to raise money for the continuation of the tree lights project and to add architecturally pleasing bicycle racks to the downtown. The next dinner is Thursday, Sept. 19, giving a diners a chance to have different courses of their meal at different participating downtown restaurants.

They're a great way to sample the downtown fare and get to some restaurants that maybe you haven't tried, Davis said.

"I had some salmon at 21 at the Frederick. It was to die for," he said.



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