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Des Moines Volunteers Plant Trees to Revitalize Historic Neighborhood

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DES MOINES, Iowa - Volunteers are adding new life to one of the oldest areas of town in an effort to strengthen the River Bend historic neighborhood.

About 40 volunteers planted 55 trees along University Avenue in Des Moines Saturday morning. 10 different types of trees were planted, as power lines, the type of soil, and proximity to a building factored in to what kind of tree could be placed in a certain area. Laura Peters, Director of the 6th Avenue Corridor, got the ball rolling on this project after asking the local group, Trees Forever, and the City of Des Moines to support a beautification project in this neighborhood. Trees Forever organized the event, after the city agreed to pay for the trees. Mercy Medical Center has agreed to maintain the trees from here on out.

“Area residents often comment in our public input meetings that they’d like to see more trees and flowers in the area,” Peters said.  “We have long-term plans for streetscape improvements along 6th Avenue, which will include street trees and green infrastructure, but this is an opportunity to make an immediate impact in the appearance of the River Bend and Cheatom Park neighborhoods.”

Laura Hansen, a resident of the River Bend neighborhood, says improving this area can help the overall city grow.

"I think when you look at other cities - Minneapolis, areas in Chicago, New York - you see these historic neighborhoods that are adjacent to the downtown center, and how important those are in making a strong community in the city," she said. "And I think that's part of where River Bend is at."