The price of development?

As a new building project on Territorial Road in south St. Anthony Park is underway, I mourn the loss of some very old friends—three majestic and stately bur oaks. They were very resilient and survived untold changes in their surroundings over the 150 to 190 years they stood guard as buildings and driveways and roads were built around them.

They were healthy and flourishing, part of a neighborhood bordered by polluting freeways and busy streets. All their lives, these oaks absorbed carbon dioxide from the air and helped to slow global warming, filtered rain­water, cooled their surroundings and provided homes to countless birds and animals. Perhaps even more important to those of us who walked past or saw them out our windows every day, they calmed us and made us feel good.

I took these trees for granted. Now a vast, gaping hole remains, soon to be filled by a steel and concrete structure that will not hold carbon, filter water or provide a sense of well-being.

Our children and future generations will not see or feel the benefits of trees like these in our community. Could the oaks have been saved, to help soften the sharp corners of the building and provide a ready-made landscape? Probably.

Would they have helped neighbors accept the reality of one more building project in a neighborhood crammed with new buildings? Certainly. When will builders and all the people involved in construction come to respect and value standing trees like the oaks and build carefully around them?

Val Cervenka
 South St. Anthony Park

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