Published June 25, 1998 By PATRICK WILLIAMS
The momentary shame we felt over being cynical after Wright's letter was washed away a few days later by this headline in the June 19 Dallas Morning News: "City, Belo Foundation to upgrade Ferris Plaza." Us cynical? We're lambs compared with the headline writers at the Orwellian Ministry of Truth at 508 Young St.
The "upgrade" in what the News story described as a "grackle-plagued park on downtown's west side" involves the city using money from the Belo Corp. to whack down 21 mature, beautiful live oak trees that ring the plaza in front of the newspaper's offices. (Belo owns the News.) That would be upgrade as in, "The timber industry wants to upgrade old-growth forests in the Northwest."
We spoke with Steve Houser, a certified arborist and vice president of the Dallas Historic Tree Coalition, which has not yet taken an official position on the plan. (The coalition will meet with the Downtown Improvement District on Tuesday to discuss it.)
Houser's personal opinion? "I think overall they're [the live oaks] not in ideal or perfect condition; however, most any of the experts that I've talked to felt like there was no obvious reason to remove the trees" except two or three that are ailing. That could cause a problem for the Belo plan. Dallas' chief arborist, Kassandra McLaughlin, says she will not grant a permit to cut down 18 of the trees, though proponents can appeal to the board of adjustment.
As for Belo's reason for wanting the trees down, another coalition member was more to the point: "To be quite blunt, there's a lot of bird shit, and people are tired of it."
Birds live in trees. Birds poop. Belo's solution? Cut down the old trees and replace them with smaller, new ones. And what does Belo plan to do about the street people who sleep in the park? Shoot them and replace them with street children?
Here's our suggestion. If you're a Morning News subscriber and like old trees, call the paper's circulation line at 214-745-8383 and "upgrade" your subscription.