by Chris Till
Downtown Yellow Springs is one of loveliest downtowns I have yet come across. To many, the pride of downtown is its shady pear trees. Unfortunately, those shady pear trees are in danger.
Last week, Yellow Springs manager Laura Curliss announced a plan to nearly clear-cut downtown Xenia Avenue from Glen Street to Corry Street by the end of August 2012. Only the two sycamores in front of the stained glass store shall remain. In 2012 and 2013, smaller trees shall be replanted along the Avenue. Regardless, for years, our beloved downtown could be without shade.
Curliss has offered four reasons for the near clear-cut, which just don’t seem good enough. First, she states the current pear trees are an invasive species. Second, she states that the pear tree roots are damaging the sidewalk. Third, she states that the topping (trimming) of the pear trees has limited their lifespan. Fourth, she states that the trees would get in the way of the planned burial of the overhead downtown power lines.
None of these reasons alone, or in concert, seem to be sufficient. As far as damaged sidewalks, there may be several trees whose roots have lifted the sidewalk, as in front of Dino’s Cappucinos. However, perhaps grading and replacing the uplifted sidewalk sections could fix the problem, rather than cutting down the responsible tree. As far as the trees’ lifespan being limited, the downtown pear trees’ sturdy response to the vicious wind storms of recent years shows that they may still be strong. Certainly, our Village crews have worked valiantly in pruning the downtown pear trees to keep them safe for pedestrians and not overly top-heavy. As far as the power lines being buried, I, for one, would rather have a shady downtown than buried power lines.
As the trees may be in the latter half of their lifespan, it seems more appropriate to gradually replace the trees over the upcoming years. Though more costly, this would be a less traumatic option.
There will be a downtown “Save the Downtown Trees” rally every day (approximately) at noon downtown on the sidewalk intersection of Short Street and Xenia Avenue. The first rally was today and lifted everyone’s energy field threefold. While two Villagers spoke up for the clear-cut, dozens of other Villagers expressed surprise and dismay. Several expressed downright anger at the sudden announcement of such a dramatic plan. Many spontaneously joined the rally.
Also, as the Village manager serves the Village Council, please consider attending the July 16, 2012 Village Council meeting at 7:00 pm. That said, there are many good people who are in favor of the clear-cut. My hope is that the disagreement over how to replace the downtown pear trees does not turn ugly. It may be an issue over which reasonable minds may differ. Perhaps there is a convincing reason for the near clear-cut. I just have not heard it yet.
Photo by Dennie Eagleson is of Chris and Whitney Till