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Woodburn Downtown Association hopes to bring 'inviting' feel back to Front Street

by: CREATIVE COMMONS PHOTO BY CHRISTMASSTOCKIMAGES.COM - Supporters of relighting the trees along Front Street believe it would give downtown a more inviting feel, but the species of tree currently in use there and the adjacent railroad present challenges to the project. Here, trees bordering a street in Tokyo, Japan, are seen decked out in strings of Christmas lights.A?group of downtown business owners, residents and community leaders are meeting to discuss the feasibility of re-lighting the trees along North Front Street.

Though the talks, led by the newly revamped and reformed Woodburn Downtown Association (WDA), are still in the very early stages, a number of parties are interested in bringing back the lights that once illuminated the east side of downtown Woodburn before being discontinued several years ago.

“It made downtown really inviting,” said Lisa Ellsworth, a downtown resident and former member of the WDA. “In the summertime, it was really nice and made downtown nice to walk in.”

She said it also made Woodburn a notable and visually enticing point for train passengers on the adjacent rail line.

Unfortunately, the railroad is a major factor in why the lights were discontinued, and why they would be a challenge to bring back.

“The nice little Christmas twinkle lights get torn up by the trains going by,”?Ellsworth said. “The trains are really not conducive to that type of lighting.”

The type of trees that were planted there offer other difficulties.

Ellsworth said that species, the linden, is larger and faster-growing than the type of tree cities generally use for twinkle lighting.

In the past, it was found that some of the trees grew so fast they absorbed or damaged the strands of light.

“They were not planted with the lights in mind,” she said.

In the meetings thus far, the WDA has discussed the idea of partnering with downtown businesses and residents for the project.

Ellsworth said it’s possible that the trees could be removed and replaced with more functional ones, but that would be a longer-term project.

In the short term, the WDA and its partners may consider ground-based canopy lighting rather than twinkle lights.

Ellsworth said the land between Front Street and the railroad is owned by Union Pacific, but the city has an agreement with the company that permits beautification of the strip and aesthetic improvements.

The next meeting discussing the project will be at 5:30 p.m. Aug. 5 at Luis’ Taqueria, 523 N. Front St. in Woodburn.

Tyler Francke covers all things Woodburn. He can be reached at tfrancke@wood burnindependent.com or 503-765-1195.