Columbia Parks and Recreation gave away free trees Saturday in advance of Arbor Day.
But next week, the city will be using taxpayer dollars to cut down seven healthy, mature shade trees on Westwood Avenue between Broadway and Stewart Road. These historic trees were planted in the 1940s by the dean of MU’s graduate school, Henry Bent, who lived on Westwood and wanted to see the vibrant reds and yellows of the sweet gum foliage in the fall.
Generations of residents of this street, including many MU professors, have enjoyed the beauty and benefits of these trees, which shade us with a canopy of green in the summer, cleaning our air and improving our health. Unfortunately, the roots of these mature trees have pushed up the sidewalk in some places.
With everything that we know about the importance of trees for our health and environment, surely the city can find some other way of fixing the sidewalk. Cutting down trees is not the way to encourage people to walk, and it is wrong to use our taxes for this purpose without even consulting the residents of the street.
Frances Dickey is a Columbia resident and an assistant professor at MU.