My wife and I just returned from viewing proposed changes to Mobile’s Bienville Square. Horrified, disgusted, astounded, aghast, puzzled — what is the proper word for a plan that apparently calls for cutting down multiple trees and turning the center of the park into a heat sink?
During the summer months it is a joy to listen to lunchtime concerts sitting by Ketchum Fountain under the shade of the live oaks. As we walked through the park today, tourists were out taking pictures of the fountain and its surrounding trees. In the future I guess they can write postcards home saying Mobile has done an amazing thing: created a replica Sahara Desert in the middle of town with a water feature spewing boiling water.
The plan we saw will turn the center of the park into an intolerably hot oven most of the year and destroy even more of our treasured oaks. The park has always been a respite from Mobile’s heat, providing the only shade save for the balconies that used to overhang almost all downtown streets. Now we are slowly restoring some of the balconies but apparently want to destroy the trees.
If you doubt the value of Bienville Park’s trees, just read the comments on any tourist site, e.g., Yelp, TripAdvisor, etc. Just Google “Bienville Park Mobile Alabama” and get page after page of complimentary articles. Or since I volunteer as a docent at one of Mobile’s historic homes, I can tell you firsthand that Bienville Square is often complimented.
I see people from all over the U.S. and the world and I have yet to have someone mention Bienville Square and say “you know, it would be a great park if you would just cut down the trees.”
Come on, is this the best we can do? I think not.
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