Anyone who has walked by the stage end of Market Square this week has probably noticed that many of the trees along Wall Ave. have been removed. I was dismayed on Monday to see mulch where nice old trees used to be. The bulging blank beige wall of Gus's Restaurant was exposed and one of the most traveled sidewalks in Knoxville (most people come out of the parking garage here) was made a lot less pleasant.
Last night fluorescent colored posters showed up on Gus's wall condemning the murder of the trees and quoting Joni Mitchell's "Big Yellow Taxi"- They paved paradise and put up a parking lot. I strongly suspect that Trustafarians over at Mama Jan's were behind it. They were little over the top (let's protest something...), but I agreed with them in spirit.
So what's the deal?
"They" turned out to be the City Arborist, who knows more about trees than the average tree hugger. It turns out that the trees in question were 20-year-old Bradford pears. Bradford pears, the darlings of suburban development, are to trees what pugs are to dogs. Cute, but genetically inclined to not do so well later in life. After two decades Bradfords give up and start dropping limbs. Not good for trees next to busy city streets.
We can all rest easy, though. The powers that be of Market Square have informed me that the City Arborist will be replacing the trees with Red Maples. Maples, unlike Bradford Pears, are robust trees that grow tall and shady and can last centuries. So let's all do some research before we start protesting, shall we?