Jackson County

Pieces of the Leaning Tree that Ocean Springs residents wanted to save are up for grabs

Stump of the leaning tree and several smaller pieces are available at the city Public Works Department, 712 Pine Drive.
Stump of the leaning tree and several smaller pieces are available at the city Public Works Department, 712 Pine Drive. klnelson@sunherald.com

Free to a good home — city aldermen are offering out pieces of the Leaning Tree of Lover’s Lane to anyone who wants some.

They said it was better than storing the huge pieces of Live oak at the Public Works Department, 712 Pine Drive.

Most of the tree is over by the culverts for anyone who wants to see it. It will take some minor paperwork to acquire the wood, but the aldermen cleared the way in a resolution on Dec. 19.

Public Works employees said one artist from Pascagoula has already taken Ocean Springs up on its offer.

The neighborhood fought hard for that tree a year ago and thought it had won. JoAnne Calhoun hired an arborist to counter the city’s claims. And in February, the former Board of Aldermen took back its order to have it cut. Mayor Connie Moran had vetoed the vote to cut it as a way to give aldermen time to reconsider.

They had learned, through a video, that the city’s big fire truck could get past it after all.

But the new board saw a problem with it. A truck had hit something in the narrow road, trying to avoid the tree, and caused a diesel spill.

So late in the meeting on Dec. 5, aldermen voted to take it down. City employees said the time would not be announced, in case neighbors got riled.

Seeing it at Public Works, Moran commented on Facebook that it wasn’t a good thing to just let the wood sit on the ground there.

The resolution appeared as an added item on the next agenda. It said: “Declare the Lover’s Lane tree surplus personal property, of no market value, and to donate same.”

State law allows disposal of personal property (that’s of no value) in any manner that seems appropriate.

Residents want the trees saved. The city wants to cut and trim to make better access for fire trucks. Video from Sept. 10, 2015.

There are people along Lover’s Lane who believe that leaving room for trees and a canopy along the narrow, winding road adds to the ambiance and property values of the neighborhood.

The road follows the shoreline of Back Bay.

After the Ocean Springs vote to cut the tree, someone wrote Sound Off: “The city elite and their government pawns have been trying to get rid of the Lovers Lane trees in Ocean Springs for years and years. Now they’re sneaking tree removal in one tree — then two, then four at a time for reasons that on the surface look ‘good.’ The new mayor needs to do some studying before he gets on the approval boat.”

Judy Herrington, who fought hard for the tree, learned of the give-away and was asked if anyone in the neighborhood might be in line to bring some of the tree home.

She was skeptical.

“A piece of a tree would not be what we want,” she said.

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