Tuesday, April 15, 2014

“I cannot tell a lie,” I chopped down the cedar tree

Recent events within the City of Apalachicola have given me cause to recall the legend of George Washington, the very first president of this great nation. It is reported by history that as a young lad Washington chopped down his father’s prized English cherry tree.

When George was confronted by his father as to who had killed his beautiful beloved tree, he cried out, “I cannot tell a lie, father, you know, I cannot tell a lie!  I did cut it down with my little hatchet.”

With that, as mayor of Apalachicola, I was fully aware and consented to the removal of the cedar tree in Riverfront Park. Therefore, the buck stops with me.  Admittedly, the tree served the Apalachicola community well for a number of years as the town’s official Christmas tree when it was planted in the late 1980's by former city planner Johnny Meyers. 

At close inspection it was revealed the tree was diseased and it's large shallow root system was beginning to undermine the newly installed reuse irrigation system that service the park. In addition, per City Ordinance 2011-01, cedar trees are not patriarch nor protected trees and this particular one definitely was not historic.  In fact, its removal followed the procedure as outlined in the ordinance for a danger/safety situation.

Further, to me the tree no longer resembled a Christmas tree, it looked more like one of those fried blooming onions that you get from food vendors at the Annual Florida Seafood Festival, but that's just my opinion and certainly as demonstrated not the only opinion.  By the way, the tree couldn't be trimmed either or shaped to look like a Christmas tree without turning it into a bare looking stick protruding out of the ground.

And yes, there was no public notice given prior to its removal and to my knowledge there has never been a requirement to give such notice when carrying out routine maintenance of the city.  Can you imagine how stymied local government would become if we had to schedule a town hall meeting or hold a referendum every time the need arose to patch a pothole or to repair a leaking water line.

At this point there’s absolutely nothing that we can humanly do to restore the cedar tree, but we can put our creative and collective minds together as one community to come up with a suitable replacementone that actually resembles a Christmas tree and locate it where it will cause the least amount of damage to the underground utilities in the park.

I challenge all that are truly concerned to work toward that goal and to join with your city leadership to tackle the more pressing problems, like economic development and activities for the youth of our community.