A citizen complaint spurred the city to take a second look at allowing the county to cut four Live oaks at the Inner Harbor Park and may save one tree.
Jackson County is doing extensive work at the park on the north side of the harbor with grants to create a recreational trail and living shoreline bank stabilization. Ramps, piers and walkways are being built and improved in the county park that includes playground equipment, tennis courts and boardwalks along the water.
But four Live oaks near the water’s edge came into question and the county asked Ocean Springs to approve letting workers cut all four — one was dead, one was badly diseased, one had its roots compromised by water and one had fallen and was growing onto the boardwalk.
The city’s tree committee gave a nod to taking all four. But an email complaint to Mayor Connie Moran from Robert Smith caused the city to take a second look. Moran sent an arborist who suggested keeping two and cutting two.
Tuesday night, the tree committee, represented by Melanie Allen, stuck to its original recommendation. Allen said the city would be better served if the county was allowed to take all four and replace them with mature Live oaks at better locations on the property.
Allen said it wasn’t practical to try and save the tree with its roots compromised and the one that had fallen and was growing into the boardwalk.
“Give the county permission to take them all out if they want to,” she said. “A better use of the money would be to replace them.”
Moran said she’d like to see the tree with its roots in the water have a chance. The shoreline work the county has done so far has stabilized that tree and put dirt around the roots.
Alderman Chic Cody said he liked the idea of starting over with four healthy trees.
Ultimately, the city voted to let the county decide, with a request that the county try and save the one tree with wet roots and plant four new trees on the property.
Jackson County Supervisor Troy Ross said late Tuesday the county will work with the two trees.
“We’ll give ‘em a chance,” Ross said. He said they would be willing to trim the leaning tree, and the one with the water around it, “we’ll watch it. If it lives in the sand, we’ll leave it.”
Alderman John Gill said he wanted to make sure the county returns the trees to them as mulch that can be used around the city.