Liberty University is partnering with the city of Lynchburg and local businesses to enhance the beauty of the U.S. 460/U.S. 29 corridor near the school.
LU hired landscape architect Proctor Harvey to design more than 20 gardens that would beautify the roadway and the campus.
“The state had just passed a new law that allowed private property owners to groom the right of way if it’s done in a certain manner,” said LU Chancellor Jerry Falwell Jr.
LU representatives met with officials from both the Virginia Department of Transportation and the city of Lynchburg to get approval for the project. Wendell Walker, a local landscaper, helped LU get city approval.
The city has similar gardens along the Lynchburg Expressway.
While some of the gardens in the Liberty projects are right on the highway corridor, some will be back off the road on the LU campus.
Initially, LU simply wanted to open the view of the DeMoss Learning Center to passersby, but later decided to expand the project.
The cost will be borne by sponsors, who can have their sign placed in a garden for a minimum donation of $8,500. Several donors can go together and sponsor an entire garden.
The donations will help defray the maintenance costs.
“One sponsor can step up and sponsor an entire $30,000 garden,” said Charles Spence, LU’s director of planning and construction. “I counted up a total of $600,000 worth of projects. It will change the whole face of Liberty.”
Already five separate sponsors have joined together to build a garden that contains more than 1,000 new plants at the entrance/exit ramp at U.S. 460/U.S. 29’s intersection with Ericsson Drive near the entrance to LU’s campus.
“We basically cut down a big mountain of dirt with wild grass growing on it,” said S. Lee Beaumont, LU’s director of auxiliary services. “We shaved it down and landscaped it and opened up the view entry to the campus.”
The sponsors for that project are Old Dominion Landscaping, Foster Electric Co. Inc., Counts and Dobyns, Thompson Trucking and Coleman Glass Construction.
“The beautification projects will go along the total span of the university,” Beaumont said. “We are looking for people to donate, and as we get the donations we’ll build the gardens. This was not a priority until this project came along.”
The task of soliciting sponsors has fallen to LU’s development office and its director, Roy Jones.
“We will reach out to local business owners first,” Jones said. “There has been some talk of us reaching into our donor file.”
Jones said sponsorship provides donors an opportunity to honor Dr. Jerry Falwell, LU’s co-founder who died May 15. Legislation has been presented to the Virginia General Assembly to rename a stretch of U.S. 460/U.S. 29 near the school the Jerry Falwell Parkway.
“Depending on the size and location, the gardens will have varying prices,” Jones said. “Some of the gardens are $30,000 to $40,000. We’ll be getting in touch with businesses to discuss these opportunities.”
Jones is not counting out individual donors who might want to contribute to the beautification of the LU campus.
“Others might want to honor a spouse or a loved one who has passed,” he said. “For those who love Liberty, these projects could take development to a new level.
“We’re trying to beautify the campus to help student recruiting,” he said. “It also will help the students that are here. It will make the campus nice to look at and nice to work at.”
Features of the Jerry Falwell Parkway Beautification Projects.
- Landscaping for the more than 20 gardens along the U.S. 460/U.S. 29 corridor near the Liberty University campus.
- Each garden designed by landscape architect Proctor Harvey.
- Sponsors can purchase a sign for a minimum $8,500 donation that will remain in place for five years. Each sponsor can renew their sign every five years.
- A garden at a major interchange will cost between $20,000 and $50,000.
- No state highway money will be used for the projects.
- The projects will use an identifiable theme for the university to follow.
- The ultimate size and texture of plants will be considered as will be their relationship to passing motorists.
- Potential contributors can contact the LU Development Office at 1-(866) 602-7983.