by Gretchen Orr and the
HWJ editorial staff
We’re going to climb up on our soapbox for a moment and talk about trees. We at the HWJ like trees, and we think they have inherent value. Their arching canopy shades hot streets and adds beauty to a town wherever they are. Gretchen was part of the Downtown Revitalization Committee that planted the honey locust trees up and down Main Street in Walsenburg over 20 years ago.
On Friday September 23, Rich McEntee, developer of Black Diamond Park, took a chain saw and cut down two and a half trees on the west side of Main Street before police told him to stop.
Rich would like to impose upon us his vision of what Walsenburg should look like, and of his own accord decided to begin removing the old growth trees and replace them with small pines in pots, outlined with faded red plastic roses (it’s October, Rich.)
He took action without seeking a permit or consulting the current city administrator. Apparently he didn’t realize that the trees belong to the city and to its citizens. He claims that the trees were hiding the historic architecture of the buildings and the signs of local businesses.
We would bet he is not disclosing that proper pruning of these mature trees will result in all signs being visible to pedestrians. He also claims to have spoken with local business owners and that many support his views.
According to the Council of Tree and Landscape Appraisers, “a mature tree can have an appraised value between $1000 and $10,000,” so McEntee destroyed up to $20,000 in city property.
He replaced the mature honey locusts with more than twenty dwarf alpine spruce in pots. These trees have a very shallow, slow-growing root system. If they get too much water or too little, they will brown and drop needles. They should be given some protection from hot afternoon sun. They are not a careful choice for Main Street.
The landscaping of Black Diamond Park just west of Walsenburg on Highway 160 reflects McEntee’s vision of the beautiful. It is completely artificial and geometric in design. It might be a popular look in Las Vegas. Here, where we are surrounded by natural beauty, it is not appealing.
After being stopped and warned by the police, Rich has gone on a propaganda spree, talking to shopkeepers on Main St about removing these mature trees.
If you like to have trees in your town, let the City of Walsenburg know this, or better yet, tell Rich, as this matter is by no means over.