Jackson County

'Most interesting looking tree in Ocean Springs' saved; leaning tree cut

OCEAN SPRINGS -- City leaders considered the fate of two old trees Tuesday night, and decided one will be saved, the other cut.

A 150-year-old cedar on Jackson Avenue with a gnarly trunk will be saved but the leaning Live oak on Lover's Lane will be cut despite pleas to save it. Both trees have the support of their neighborhoods, because people say they enhance the quality of life.

A city-hired arborist gave the old cedar a thumbs up and aldermen decided to follow his recommendation to save it.

After the vote, Alderman Jerry Dalgo said, "It is one of most interesting looking trees in Ocean Springs. I wouldn't want anyone to alter it."

Arborist Ben Kahlmus said the cedar "is a very unique tree . It is obvious this tree has withstood a beating over the years."

He said it has character. Its wounds have started to heal, he said, "which is a good sign. This means the tree still has vigor, and is trying to bounce back."

Kahlmus gave the city a list of recommendations to help it thrive, including pruning, termite protection and aerating the roots.

And owners of the property near Front Beach on which it the cedar is growing, have agreed to reconsider the driveway that would have taken it. It's on public right-of-way and the city decided to use city money to maintain it.

The leaning tree on Lover's Lane was another matter. Building official Hilliard Fountain strongly recommended it be cut to clear the way for fire trucks.

Three arborists have looked at it, and late Tuesday, city leaders considered the safety reasons the Fire Department wants to see it cut.

Gary Ickes, an arborist hired by longtime Lover's Lane resident JoAnne Calhoun to evaluate the tree, gave a hopeful report and Ken Altman presented parts of that report to aldermen Tuesday.

The concern, though, is large fire trucks getting quickly past the leaning oak on Lover's Lane. Kahlmus recommended cutting the entire tree.

The Building and Fire departments have supported taking it down since a resident at the end of the lane put the city on notice they're concerned with fire truck response times. The tree is in the city right-of-way, they say.