Selecting plants for the Main Street medians in downtown Cortez was not a decision made lightly.
Cortez Parks Superintendent Mark Boblitt said the city was limited to plants that are drought-tolerant, low-growing and able to withstand aggressive pruning. He said there is no irrigation system in the medians, so watering is done by hand, and the Colorado Department of Transportation stipulated that the plants cannot grow higher than 2 feet.
The coming year is a critical period for the plants, Boblitt said. He said it takes about a year for drought-tolerant plants to become established, and they need to be watered regularly for a few weeks until they root and mature.
“They’re kind of sensitive when they’re first planted,” Boblitt said. “They’re sensitive to low-water situations.”
He said a city employee uses a 1-ton flatbed pickup truck with a water tank to water all the plants downtown in the early morning, around 4 or 5 a.m., to avoid traffic.
The plant species include several varieties of barberry, dwarf butterfly, juniper, potentilla, spirea, sumac and yucca. The four downtown medians each have about 15 to 20 plants. The median near 1300 E. Main St. is larger and has an irrigation system. Boblitt said the Parks and Recreation Department also planted bulbs in the medians, so flowers will bloom in the spring.
Cortez Public Works Director Phil Johnson said the medians are complete, but the downtown construction project also includes the addition of Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant ramps at the Main Street intersections of Ash, Beech, Market, Chestnut and Elm streets.
Crews have also repaved several alleys and ADA ramps on side streets, including one in front of the Cortez Cultural Center. Johnson said the entire project will be wrapped up in a few weeks.