Are More of Our Trees on the Chopping Block?

This post revisits the 2019 Broad Street road project, first, to update you on the status of the Tiger Grant Broad Street street project as it relates to our trees and shade canopy in the impacted areas; and secondly, to ask for your support for-- and possible participation in-- efforts to once again preserve our trees. Without wide citizen support and participation, our efforts will produce few if any results.

The Collaborative became aware last week of an issue related to the remaining oak trees that have been preserved thus far in the Broad Street Project. As many of you may remember, citizens in our historic districts worked with the city to achieve a plan that would save as many of our historic oaks and large trees as possible, and replant others, in the Broad Street "Tiger Grant" street project. While our efforts were at best a compromise, we did get a commitment that saved quite a few trees.

The current historic heat wave serves to place an exclamation point on the need for, and obligation of, our city to protect us from concrete jungle heat islands in our midst. As we have always insisted, trees are far more than an aesthetic issue in modern city life.

Last week, some members of the Collaborative who have worked on this issue received a communication from city personnel inviting those most closely associated with the preservation of Live Oaks on Broad Street (approximately 15 persons) to attend an urgent meeting “concerning some issues…discovered regarding tree risk and preservation along the right of way between Government and Church Street.” At the 8am meeting on Friday, June 17, Jennifer Greene, along with Peter Toler, head of the City of Mobile Urban Forestry, and some of the members of the Broad Street Construction team informed those attending that 3 of the 7 Live Oak trees located in the right-of-way on the east side of the Government Street Methodist Church had major structural roots extending out into the construction area of the Broad Street roadbed.

Peter Toler explained if the roots were cut to allow the current designed road bed to be completed, the trees would be weakened and present a risk of falling in a wind storm. Peter’s professional opinion was if these or any trees presented a risk that would harm people or structures, then he would have no choice but to have them removed. When asked if the root system is intact enough at this stage (as of 6/23/22) to support the trees, Mr. Toler stated that yes, the root system is adequately intact at this stage without further damage.

The group was promised a summary and timeline for the meeting but neither has been provided at this time.

These three Live Oaks were designated to be preserved in the 2019 agreement between the City of Mobile, the Government Street Collaborative and involved citizens from the surrounding neighborhoods.

Because of this change of plans, Mr. Bill Boswell, GSC member who worked on this project in 2019, has led a request for a face to face meeting with city officials, to go over some possible solutions or alternative plans. Mr. Boswell has also signed up to speak to City Council at their next Tuesday meeting. Please attend if you can in support of Mr. Boswell's efforts, and write your Council person to encourage a meeting before the roots are allowed to be cut further.

We ask for your support to be on the ready to join in efforts to inform others about this situation and express the position of citizens on the matter to Council. Mr. Boswell will speak to Council on Tuesday, June 28. Attend in support if you can!

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