Downtown Trees Help Local Economy


Street trees are an amazing Downtown Colville investment.   Not only do they add value to our community, they help the economic vitality of Downtown Colville.  Dr. Kathleen Wolf from the University of Washington had an article publish in the Main Street News regarding how healthy street trees encourage spending downtown.

“Central business districts are the heart and soul of communities.  There are places where people can enjoy an appealing atmosphere and have a memorable experience, which gives Main Street a definite edge over its online and strip mall competitors.  The design of a commercial district that uses landscaping and trees can enhance a customers’ experience and further strengthen its competitive edge.”

Shoppers once were looking to buy what they needed then continue with their day, but with on-line commerce, shopping has changed.  Shoppers can find easily find what they need on-line and have it delivered to their door.  Today’s downtown shopper is looking for an EXPERIENCE.  Street trees aid in that experience because they aid in the visual appeal, create a sense of place, and are regarded as an amenity.


Dr. Wolf’s study not only determined that trees help in the creation of a positive experience, she also found that consumers claimed they were willing to pay almost 10% more for the same goods and services in business districts that have trees. Shoppers also claimed they were willing to travel farther and stay longer in a retail area with trees.  Trees “enhance a sense of place and identity for the business district while boosting foot traffic and sales revenue.”

Beautiful, mature street trees are an investment and amenity for Downtown Colville that few other towns in our area have.  Downtown Colville trees set us apart!


Downtown Trees

I think we can all agree that we have a beautiful downtown.  Especially this time of year when the trees are at their most dynamic.  The street trees are one of Downtown Colville’s greatest assets.


The City recently received a generous Small Community Forestry Grant from the Washington Department of Resources for the evaluation, inventory, and mapping of street trees in our downtown corridor. Using data from that inventory, along with input from local businesses, this grant has allowed for the creation of a management plan for our downtown street trees.

Urban forester, Jim Flott, visited Colville this summer and cataloged the trees in our town.  He inventoried 240 trees throughout town and determined, through court validated pricing, that they are worth $399,000.  WOW!  Isn’t that amazing?  What an investment we have put into our town! If we take care of that investment it will continue to gain value.



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Unfortunately, the trees are severely neglected.  Luckily, the City of Colville is committed to rectifying this problem, and the Tree Board is focused on preserving our investment.  Money has been designated for care and maintenance of the trees and the Public Works Department as well as Streets has already begun implementing many of the recommendations of the urban forester.  Pruning is the top priority, removing the tree grates is needed, and providing mulch, to increase moisture, around all the trees is currently being done.

All the trees need to be pruned and sadly there are a few that have to be removed because they are too far gone.  Pruning will not only increase the life of the trees and continue our investment; it will reduce the amount of leaves that are falling onto the sidewalks, make signage for the businesses more visible, and improve safety for pedestrians at the cross walks by making the flashing beacons easier to see.

Colville Together’s goal of “…planning and preserving Historic Downtown Colville…” includes the street trees.  We will be assisting in any way that we can to help.  If you are interested in the street trees and ways you can help please contact the Colville Tree Board at (509) 684-5094 for information.



Behind the Facade Tour

Yesterday was an awesome day in Downtown Colville!  Over 50 community members joined in on the “Behind the Facade Tour” that Colville Together Organized.

The tour started at RE Lee Shoes.  Karen and Simon Abide shared a bit of the history of the RE Lee building and took us throughout the building.  We traipsed through the back door into the hobbit hideaway of an office space and down into the depths of the basement. We saw the stock rooms, the old shelving from the hardware store and technological advancement of the time, a concrete foundation.

They also took us into the beautiful apartment space that they have on the second level of the building. It was a wonderful tour, full of great information, history and fun.

After the RE Lee building tour, Terry Timmering, took us to his building which currently houses Hometown Computer.  He shared that his building was an extension of the Lee Hotel, now House of Music. He then took us up to the second floor.  In the 1920’s the hotel rooms where left and almost nothing has been done to them.  There was original floors, beautiful baseboards, lathe and plaster walls, and each room had the original porcelain sink.

Terry calls the place a “ghost hotel” and it was a bit spooky with the lack of electricity and the dun going down. He also shared the lower portion of the building with the tour and then led us to the basement.  His foundation was made of stone and had original coal shoots and the old boiler was still in place.

It was a wonderful time downtown and so awesome to see community members show and interest in the buildings and our history.

The Four-Point Approach

The Main Street Four-Point Approach is a tried a true comprehensive and action-oriented method of revitalization for downtown. These points are Organization, Promotion, Design and Economic Vitality.  Colville Together is a Main Street Affiliate and we utilize the Four-Point Approach in for the structure of our non-profit.


Organization is focused on people.  How to get people interested, involved, collaborating, and doing things downtown.  This is a committee that focuses on the small details of Colville Together as well as the big picture.

Promotion is focused on sharing how awesome downtown is with the local community and our visitors.   We have partnered with the Downtown Committee of the Chamber of Commerce to promote Downtown Colville and assisted with numerous events this past summer.

Design is focused on the built environment of downtown; the buildings, sidewalks, street trees, benches and how people interact with them. We provide free architectural design assistance for any building owner. We have also collaborated with the City of Colville to develop Design Guidelines for downtown, with a focus on maintaining the unique character of downtown.

Economic Vitality focuses on how to strengthen our economy as well as how we can expand and encourage new sustainable growth.  Colville Together has partnered with  Tri County Economic Development to strengthen our understanding of Colville’s economy.

Why the Main Street Program Works

It will work for Colville!

Breanne Durham the coordinator from the Washington State Main Street Program was here at the end of June and shared with us a bit more about the Main Street Program and why it works. Here are her key points:

Direction: The Main Street Approach provides a tried-and-true framework for organizing the community efforts for revitalization. It is a comprehensive program, not just concentrated on a single project, but it is an ongoing focus on a series of efforts to have lasting progress because of community involvement.

Engagement: Main Street is about PEOPLE. Partnerships, community involvement, collaboration and communication are key. Support from public and private members of the community are what makes a successful program.

Incremental: Small changes make a big difference. Little transformations, like swept sidewalks and clean windows show the care our community has for downtown.  Downtown tours for the community share our history and help the community know where we have come from. These little things may seem inconsequential but make our community a better place.


Do you want to know more about the Main Street Approach?  How are you involved in our community? What small changes do you want to see downtown?

Please let me know!  Share a comment on Facebook, email me or give me a call.

Colville Has a Main Street Program

Did you Know!


Colville Together is a new non-profit organization focused on the preserving and planning of downtown Colville. We are an affiliate of the Washington Main Street Program which functions under the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation.  The focus of our organization is the physical environment of downtown Colville.  Primarily we are focused on the buildings, as well as the streets, the sidewalks and the trees. Our mission statement and purpose is:

Partnering to enrich our community through planning and preserving Historic Downtown Colville, while cultivating our local economy.”

We strongly believe that a comfortable downtown environment encourages new businesses, community use, and attracts tourists. Colville is blessed with an amazing downtown, which holds a fantastic variety of building styles and types.  One of our principal goals is to work with building owners to restore and revitalize the buildings of our downtown.  Downtown Colville is a unique and beautiful place, let’s maintain the excellent elements and polish some of the buildings that are neglected and deteriorating into the jewels of our community.