Re: Before you can shop, trees must drop, story, March 3.
I see where the new developers of the Clearwater Mall site are going to remove 85 percent, or 630, of the 740 mature oak trees from the mall parking area. I was always impressed that the original developers of Clearwater Mall, the Blackburn brothers, chose to save these oaks, designing parking areas around them, which complemented the adjacent Seville property, formerly a peacock farm.
For 30 years, Clearwater Mall had adequate parking while preserving the trees. Now, suddenly, it is necessary to take out 630 oaks. Instead of using a little creative planning to design around the trees, the new developers elected to get most of them out of the way so they can pop in small ones accommodating the new configuration.
This makes no sense in light of the type of mall going in. It is to be an outdoor concept mall, similar to Northwood Plaza or Largo Mall. This is all the more reason to retain most of the mature trees, as pedestrians will be spending more time outside instead of in an air conditioned mall. Northwood Plaza saved most of its oaks until the widening of McMullen-Booth Road carved out a few hundred of them.
This is not a good day for city arborists. The tree bank program gives developers an excuse to remove specimen trees and replant small ones, now even smaller in the proposed code. As I understand it, the trees aren't even always replanted on the subject site.
We need a stronger tree ordinance in Clearwater. I'd like to wait 50 more years until these new ones are are equivalent in height to the ones standing there now, but I might not be around.
The same day this article appeared, another one appeared in the Times. It was different. There was a tree contest held in Tampa, sponsored by the city, to locate the grandest oaks in town and single out the owners for recognition. Historic preservation there is branching out to catalog trees, saying, "We want to bring an awareness of trees." We need that kind of thinking on this side of the bay.
Mike Sanders, Clearwater
We must speak up
to save the trees
"I think that I shall never see
a poem lovely as a tree."