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Trees along city roadways: Guest Opinion by Johnny Anderson

Trees along roadways Scenes similar to this one, and even far worse, can be plentiful in Mississippi following ice storms, tornadoes, and severe thunderstorms. Photo: Tom Shortell, Wikimedia Commons


Please allow me to explain my position on trees along roadways within the city limits of New Albany. I was born in the country, am a country boy at heart and love trees. I have climbed, cut, sawed, split, cleared, burned and anything else you can imagine related to trees and tree limbs. I am not opposed to trees, but we need parameters. We are shortsighted and irresponsible when we approve locating trees near roadways and utility lines.

Some might say planting trees is a no brainer. Why would anyone be opposed to planting trees? What is the harm? You are not being a team player. To those I say:  look at the long-term effect of placing trees near city streets and utility lines.

Eight months into my 1st term as a member of this Board, we encountered the Ice Storm of 1994. Although this happened 25 years ago it is still vivid in my mind. Utility lines were down, streets were impassible, and residents/customers/employees suffered through a grueling recovery period. Power was out for many customers 14+ days, followed by months of clean up and rebuilding. Many lessons were learned during this time. Some of which were the need for additional equipment (knuckle boom, trash trucks, etc.), a tree trimming/right of way clearing plan near streets and utility lines, and caution when considering future tree locations. The Ice Storm made me cautious regarding setting trees, particularly near streets and utility lines.

Recently, the following have taken place:

  • 150 pin oak trees have been planted along Park Plaza Drive ($17,118.00 not including future maintenance costs), which in time will create a canopy over the street. Although this might create a scenic drive, these trees will cause problems at some point in the future. Pin oak trees reach a mature height of 60 to 100 feet with a mature spread of 25 to 40 feet. Roots will eventually damage the roadbed, limbs will fall onto the street creating safety issues, pruning/trimming maintenance will be required at a cost to the City, vehicles entering the street will have decreased line of sight and the view of storefronts will become increasingly restricted. Why so many trees? I do not understand. Plus, this was done without Board approval.
  • 200 redbud trees have been approved for planting along Carter Avenue ($18,641.50 not including future maintenance costs). Redbuds reach a mature height of 20 to 30 feet with a mature spread of 20 to 25 feet. Line of sight will be restricted for vehicle traffic entered this street. 200 trees near a city street is excessive.
  • Initially 250, now 125, crape myrtles are being considered along Bankhead Street (initially $46,250.00, now $23,125.00 not including future maintenance costs). Crape myrtles reach a mature height of 20 to 30 feet with a mature spread of 10 to 15 feet. Many of these trees will be planted on both sides of the street near the Cemetery. We now spend 40k per year to maintain the cemetery and these plantings will add expense to the City. Also, line of sight will be limited, creating safety concerns for vehicles entering this street. Why do we need crape myrtles along this street? Unnecessary.

Again, I am not opposed to trees in certain areas, within limits. Although appealing when in bloom, trees can be a nuisance if planted in the wrong location. Trees in an open field are fine, but trees planted near city streets or utility lines will cause major issues when the next ice storm occurs or possibly before.

I am not and have never been against making New Albany more attractive, and my record speaks to this. But could we not use our beautification and grant money for other projects to enhance the beauty of our City? Something other than trees along roadways and utility lines.

Hopefully, my comments will prompt long-term reflection by committee and board members. My constituents are questioning the excessive numbers and location of trees being planted in our City.

Johnny Anderson

New Albany Ward 2 Alderman

For previous articles about trees: City Board August 2018: Tempest over tree spots, How pin oaks ended up along Park Plaza, and Who knew about the trees & when did they know it?

4 Comments on Trees along city roadways: Guest Opinion by Johnny Anderson

  1. P. M. Henry // March 7, 2019 at 1:19 PM //

    With the park in need of arbor maintenance and care, it seems that the money could be spent on the continuing beautification and support of the park that has already shown such success. I also question how the money seems to end up being directed to the same vendor that has shown such bad judgement in planning planting times that it was then used as an excuse to waste the trees on an unapproved placement along streets that will certainly cause problems and expense for the taxpayers of our city.

  2. Bill Cornelius // March 7, 2019 at 11:20 PM //

    Pin oaks on Park Plaza is the most stupid idea I’ve seen in my 67 yrs in NA. Eventually they will spread out to tear up road, block out view of businesses from I 22 from passing motorists and will cost more in maintenance! Just look at what will be there 30 or 50 years from now? Plant small trees for beautification!

  3. David Brown // March 10, 2019 at 8:20 AM //

    As a resident of New Albany, I say no to the trees. Long term problems will cost to much as Mr Anderson said. We have water and street problems that need fixed.

  4. Mr. Lorax // March 12, 2019 at 1:34 AM //

    I’ve heard this before.

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