Jackson County

Holcomb Avenue oaks are gone. Here’s why Ocean Springs cut them down.

After: This is what the Brune yard on Holcomb Boulevard looks like without the large oaks along the fence that the city cut.
After: This is what the Brune yard on Holcomb Boulevard looks like without the large oaks along the fence that the city cut. klnelson@sunherald.com

Myra Brune’s daughter told aldermen this week how painful and damaging it was to have the city cut two large trees along Brune’s front fence on Holcomb Boulevard.

The city said the trees were cut to improve drainage for a sewer line being installed down the street from Brune’s home.

Brune’s husband, no longer alive, had planted one of those trees 35 years ago. It was a beautiful white oak, Brune’s daughter told the Board of Aldermen on Tuesday night.

Besides the sentimental loss, when the city cut the trees, it dramatically changed the look of the property. The city also took two large trees next door.

Daughter Sharon Brune Weeks told aldermen, “200 years of growth cut to clear a ditch where there wasn’t a flooding problem. Mom kept the ditch clean. They were beautiful trees.”

In fact, she said, since the trees have been cut, the ditch has filled up to overflowing — a new development.

Weeks said cutting the trees cost the charm of the property, but such action also diminishes beauty in a city that prides itself on its canopy.

Stripped of the trees, Brune’s yard looks wide-open and bare. Weeks said there’s no way to replace the shade from all those years of growth.

The city tree committee signed off on the cutting, and Brune did get a notice in the mail.

But Weeks said, no one explained which trees would be cut and that the white oak her father planted would be one of the ones to go.

James Foster, head of Public Works, told aldermen, they didn’t want to just trim the roots of the trees at the open drainage ditch because it might have made the trees unstable. Besides, the trees were mostly (and technically) in the city right of way of the street. That means they were on city property between Holcomb Boulevard and Brune’s fence.

Brune’s daughter asked city leaders to help pay for planting new trees, but Alderman Mike Impey said, state law won’t allow the city to pay for improvements to private property.

“We can restore the fence and the grass, but the trees were in the right of way,” Impey said.

Weeks said it really wasn’t about the money, anyway. They estimated the cost for new trees at $1,300.

She told the board it was really about trying to make sure the city didn’t do such a thing again. She pointed out that the ditch has not been dug any deeper, so she questioned why the trees were cut at all.

And now that the trees are cut, there’s a matter of dealing with big root balls that are tangled in the Brune fence. The city has a plan.

The aldermen were sympathetic. More than one asked what the city could do. But the trees are already gone.

A family member said after the meeting that he understood how an engineer sees the issue, but this is about more than just right of way and drainage.

It has to do with a 79-year-old woman who thought of her husband every time she looked at those trees.