Thursday, January 7, 2010

Downtown renovators, spare that tree

By S. Derrickson Moore
Sun-News reporter
LAS CRUCES — Renovators, spare that tree.
It may be the most beautiful tree in Las Cruces, and I think we should do everything we can to save it, when downtown renovation moves to the south end of the Downtown Mall.
That beautiful tree and some of its beautiful amigos are scheduled to be chopped down for downtown improvements. Let’s rethink that.
The tree I have in mind is on the south end of the mall, near White’s Music Box. Its picture, in full, leafy glory during this past summer, is on this page today.
I want to stress that I’m a fan of most of what’s transpired so far to spruce up our downtown.
I was a little leery, as were my friends at the Las Cruces Farmers and Crafts Market, when they moved the market for the next phase of renovations. But the truth is, the market seems to be a roaring success in its new location.
I love the renovated block of the Downtown Mall between Las Cruces Avenue and Griggs Street and think it’s become a fine home for events like the new Salsa Festival and the relocated market.
And I have high hopes for what has always been my favorite Downtown Mall block, whose attractions include two theaters, the Black Box and the Las Cruces Community Theatre, now in the midst of a renovation and spruce up fund-rising campaign, Coas My Bookstore, the Branigan Cultural Center and the Las Cruces Art Museum, as well as a burgeoning number of galleries.
Flo Hosa Dougherty, the owner of one of those galleries, Blue Gate, has been in mourning for another lovely tree, near her famous blue gate, that has been marked for the ax.
She’s resigned to the loss of the tree and has recruited fellow artists to claim the wood and make some beautiful art which she plans to exhibit.
It’s a nice gesture, but I want more — including a long life — for its surviving arboreal sibling and if it means that planners have to build a curve in the road to go around it or even eliminate sidewalks on that patch, I say, “Why not?’
The Downtown Mall, even once its roads are all restored and reopened to traffic, was never intended to become a speedway. A gentle curve or two will help keep drivers alert to what has become unfamiliar territory in the decades the area has been closed to motorists.
And besides, curves are artistic, aesthetically pleasing and good feng shui.
It would be a graceful, natural and green gesture to change our plans a little to accommodate a beautiful bit of nature, especially as our dream of downtown as a cultural corridor moves closer to full-tilt realization.
The First Friday Ramble has come of age with a burgeoning roster of museum and gallery venues opening for an evening art walk the first Friday of each month. The Saturday and Wednesday markets are looking good, the new Salsa Fiesta was a triumph and Winterfest was lovely, despite actual wintery weather.
We’ve weathered some changes, as the last of the old yellow brick road drifts into the Western sunset, the arches came down, and we rediscover some old adobe gems and greet a skyline transformed by a brand new Las Cruces City Hall and the inventive textures of the Mayan-esque federal courthouse.
But we’ve lost some treasures in the name of progress over the years. I still meet viejos y viejas who can’t hold back the tears when they talk about the old St. Genevieve Church that once graced Las Cruces’ downtown area.
It’s too late to bring back that spiritual icon.
But with some redesign, I’ll bet we could save that beautiful tree.
And if we don’t try, I’ll bet we’ll regret it.
Take a look at its picture or go visit my buddy, which is lovely even without its leaves, and let me know what you think.
S. Derrickson Moore can be reached at; (575) 541-5450. To share comments, go to and click on Blogzone and Las Cruces Style.

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