Sometimes a tree is not more lovely than a poem

(With all apologies to the poet Joyce Kilmer.)

By Charles Sercombe

At first glance, it seems counter-intuitive.

Just plain wrong.

Even a big, husky guy like Darren Grow, the city’s Director of the Downtown Development Authority, admits “it breaks my heart.”

All right, go ahead and call us tree huggers, but to watch a work crew chainsaw down trees along the side streets of Jos. Campau, you want to yell, “Noooooo.”

But, Grow said, it had to be done.

They were the wrong kind of trees to plant from the get-go.


Because the roots of these trees, locusts to be exact, spread out, not down. And when tree roots spread out, they become a mighty destructive force. Just take a look. The sidewalks around the trees have buckled up. The iron grates around them have cracked.

Curbs have even been bent out of shape.

“We’ve been getting tons of complaints about them,” Grow said.

And the buckled sidewalks have resulted in some trip and fall lawsuits against the city, he said.

The program to take down the trees started last year. In total, over 40 trees will come down. But there is an upside to all this.

Thanks to a grant from DTE Energy, worth $3,000, the city will be able to purchase and plant replacement trees with roots that grow straight down, not out.

Believe it or not, Grow said, there are some merchants on Campau who would rather have no trees at all. That’s not an option, Grow said.

“No tree cover would make it sparse,” he said.

And besides, trees soften the urban landscape and protect pedestrians from summer’s brutal sun and heat.

Grow said the replanting effort will begin in a few weeks, and he hopes to find funding sources to continue the program next year.

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