ALPINE For 10 years Alpine's Petersen Park has been a popular place for walkers and joggers to get away from the city as they cut through the spacious park that hosts a beautiful bridge, an old-fashioned milking parlor and an arboretum in its early stages.
For Harvey Hutchinson, an Alpine resident who lives adjacent to the park, it has been a place for him and many other members of the community to show their love for open space and especially for trees.
Right now, close to 50 different types of trees that have been gathered from places all over the state and country have been planted in the park.
"An arboretum is something that doesn't just happen," said Hutchinson. "Most of the great arboretums in the world are a thousand years old. Here we are just scratching into it, but we started with really nothing other than the property."
For the past 10 years, Hutchinson and about 50 or 60 other people have volunteered at different times to help make the park what it is today.
Over the years they have planted many different seeds some have adjusted to the climate and soil, and others have failed. Hutchinson remembers planting lots of seeds from the red oak tree next to the well in Carthage, Ill., and only one of them stuck.
"That is what an arboretum is," he said. "You experiment with what types of trees can be grown in this location."
Hutchinson first became interested in arboretums while serving an LDS mission in Australia. He visited an arboretum in Melbourne and says he was sold the minute he walked down the ramp and saw the botanical gardens and trees from all over the world.
Hutchinson has played a big role in the development of the park by planting trees, helping to mow the lawns and building the bridge and milking parlor to give the property even more of a country feel, but he won't take the credit for it. He says the park never would have happened if it weren't for Gordon Taylor, a residential developer who bought the property and made a deal with the city to keep it as open space. Hutchinson says that before Taylor bought the property about 10 years ago, it took a lot of work to keep the area from being developed.
Recently the city's arboretum committee developed a master plan for the park at the request of the City Council. The price tag for the master plan to be developed would be a few million dollars, so for now the city will slow down work on the park.
"Right now we are scaling back," said Alpine Mayor Hunt Willoughby. "So we are basically making it more of a nice park with trees. A true arboretum requires an arborist, and we aren't able to move forward with that aspect of the park."
While money seems to be the key issue, the mayor is thankful for all the work that has been put into the park and definitely doesn't want to rule out any future advancement."Petersen Park is a beautiful area," said Willoughby. "So what we are going to do does not negate any of the grand plan; it just scales it back for now. If we ever got grants that would help expand that plan, it would be great, but right now this is the direction we are going."