A group of environmental activists and north Hamilton residents are protesting the planed removal of a handful of 50-year-old French oaks that line the center of Ewing Street.
That street is the last such thoroughfare that features trees growing on a centre median strip, on the island, according to multiple activists who don’t want that distinction to become a thing of the past.
Late yesterday morning a handful of local residents convinced workers to cease cutting the branches of the trees, saying they should not be removed and that the corporation’s plan to remove them flew in the face of the neighborhood’s wishes.
They temporarily halted the cutting, but not before the trees were stripped of many branches, which were then piled into the road.
“People don’t want this,” said RoseAnn Edwards, who is local resident and a Corporation of Hamilton councillor.
Sherma Simmons, who has lived on Ewing Street for more than three decades, is concerned the removal of the trees will bring more flooding problems to her property. Others were worried that the removal of the median would change the face of the neighborhood and make it more industrial, which in turn will mean more heavy trucks rumbling down their road.
“There’s no concern for the neighborhood here,” said Ms Simmons.
The plans, according to multiple residents, currently call for the trees to be removed, not cut down. They would then be replanted elsewhere. However, some wondered aloud whether that would be possible without killing the trees.
Anne Hyde, who is the executive director of Keep Bermuda Beautiful and opposes the removal of the trees, said the corporation was concerned about fire trucks being able to get down the road and wanted to expand the sidewalks, which are narrow and hard to navigate on trash collection days, she said.
Some residents said other options could and should be considered in order to assuage the corporation’s concerns, such as the elimination of parking on one side of the street.
Ms Hyde said there are ongoing negotiations about how the street should change with the corporation.
“And there shouldn’t be any action with chainsaws while the negotiations are ongoing,” she said.
When asked why the crews stopped cutting, Ms Hyde said “Enough people showed up.”
The removal of the trees, said Jennifer Gray, the executive director of the Bermuda National Trust, would represent a step in the wrong direction for Hamilton.
“We should be greening our city,” she said.