The Little Rock Planning Commission will consider today a change to the River Market overlay district that could change the fall palette of the district from red to yellow: The city will ask to remove the maple trees planted along President Clinton Boulevard and elsewhere in the district and replace them with gingkos. The meeting is at 4 p.m. in City Hall.

John Eckart, director of Little Rock Parks and Recreation, said the Autumn Blaze maples have not been “faring well”; the Gingko biloba species was suggested by the River Market design review committee. Eckart said 10 tree wells are empty and many maples are showing distress. The committee wants to have a sustainable tree instead.


Eckert expects the method of replacement — taking all the trees out at once, which has been suggested, or replacing the dead and dying trees — will be a matter of debate. The plaques placed at each tree, part of the fundraising effort to buy the Autumn Blazes, will remain.

The red-leafed trees have become iconic of the River Market, featured in photographs and paintings. They are sold as hardy in Zone 8, which is Little Rock’s plant hardiness number, and as low maintenance trees, though they like an acidic boost to the soil once in a while. Gingko bilobas turn bright yellow for a short time in fall. Males are usually planted because the female fruits are messy and contain a foul-smelling acid.


The changes to the design overlay district would also remove the word “prohibited” from the ordinance to streamline the process for requested variances and make alterations to certain restrictions on signage in the district.