JACKSONVILLE — City officials hope new decorative plantings will help motorists understand which parts of city streets are off-limits for parking.

JACKSONVILLE — City officials hope new decorative plantings will help motorists understand which parts of city streets are off-limits for parking.

A groundbreaking will be at 1:30 p.m. today for the first "adopt-a-corner" planting on the southeast corner of Oregon and Main streets, across from Old City Hall.

Curbs don't exist on Jacksonville streets and signs are discouraged in older parts of the historic town. Motorists who missed restricted-parking markings on the edge of pavement could be tagged with a $95 fine. Those citations drew a number of complaints over the past summer about poor street marking and the amount of the fine.

The plantings should provide an attractive physical barrier that will prevent people from parking where they shouldn't and collecting a parking ticket.

"Hopefully, this will help people determine when they are in legal parking and when they aren't in legal parking," said City Councilman Dick Ames. "Previously, it was an issue because we don't have curbs. We paint a line on the road."

Businesses and organizations in town will plant and maintain the corners. Jacksonville Inn, which has tourist cottages at the site, will landscape the first corner. They also will adopt two corners behind the Inn, which is located on California Street.

"It will be similar to what is in front of Old City Hall — lavenders and xeriscape plantings that don't require a lot of water," said Paul Wyntergreen, city administrator.

"We won't have any irrigation systems. They will require attention for the first couple of years."

Costs could range from a few hundred dollars up to $1,000, depending on plants selected, said Pubic Works Director Jeff Alvis. Plants are limited to a height of three feet so they don't impair vision at the corners.

"We will do the earth work and move all the dirt out of (the corners). We'll have suggestions on what they can plant," said Alvis. "The biggest things are to keep it watered and use plants that are drought tolerant and keep weeds out."

Thornton Engineering plans to adopt the corner by its office at Third and D streets, said Alvis. He's also been contacted by several civic groups who want to be involved.

"When we get a few others in, people will see them and it will grow as we go along," said Alvis. "It's going to be kind of unique. Hopefully, it will spread to other cities."

Sites will be checked for presence of utility lines, but Alvis doesn't anticipate problems on most corners because only about a foot of dirt would be removed. Fall and spring are good times to start planting, Alvis said.

Landscaped corners aren't the only good news for drivers. The City Council voted Tuesday to lower the fine for illegal parking on a corner to $50, rather than $95. The new fine took effect Wednesday.

"We are enforcing a state law," said City Councilman Bill Leep, the council's representative to the parking commission. "It's not limited to Jacksonville. It's a safety issue.

"People think we are racketeering and we are not," Leep said. "I think that (the plantings) will help a lot."

Tony Boom is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Reach him at tboom8929@charter.net.