Those Damned Pretty Trees
I live in a nice middle-class neighborhood of Louisville, Kentucky called
Crescent Hill. The main drag through Crescent Hill is Frankfort Avenue.
Frankfort Avenue is actually US Highway 60 and runs between Louisville and
Kentucky's capitol, Frankfort. It was once a main stage coach line and it is
lined with 100+ year old historic homes and businesses.
In my neighborhood, beautiful old homes line the south side of Frankfort
Avenue and the CSX (formerly Louisville and Nashville) railroad runs along the
north side. On the residential side, the homes have large, well-kept lawns
bordered by limestone curbing and in some cases, walls. Between the lawns and
the street there is a nice sidewalk and then a grassy strip before you get to
the limestone street curb. Street lights are plentiful. On the railroad side,
there is a considerable grassy buffer between the street and the railroad
It's the kind of nice neighborhood where everybody gets out and walks, or
jogs. Several small local businesses operate along Frankfort Avenue and people
often walk to the store or restaurant rather than drive. Because the historic
Kentucky School For The Blind is located here, we have a lot of blind area
The trees: As anyone who has ever been to Kentucky knows, we have an
abundance of trees. This is a good thing. Giant, ancient oaks, walnuts, and
maples are everywhere. Several years ago some of our local "leaders"
apparently drove up Frankfort Avenue and thought "Wouldn't it be pretty if
the street was lined with trees". The next thing we (the residents) knew,
the city was planting trees every few feet in the narrow grassy strip between
the sidewalk and the street. By narrow I mean only a foot or two wide!
This was a classic case of a would-be do-gooders imposing their tastes on
others. They thought this would be "pretty" without any consideration
of the consequences. The trees do look nice when driving up the street. However,
for the pedestrians and residents it is a different story.
- The trees quickly took root and have grown up into the electrical,
telephone, and cable TV wires overhead.
- They hang out into the roadway where trucks and busses have sheared off
imposing branches given the trees a lopsided look.
- Branches hang over the sidewalk where pedestrians have to constantly duck
them to avoid getting poked in the eye or slapped in the face. As you can
imagine, this is even more of a hazard for the many blind residents of the
- Branches, berries, sap, and mulch now litter the sidewalk and
- Dogs can't resist urinating on, and defecating around, them.
- The streetside grassy strip is no longer manicured as it once was because
it's just too much trouble to maneuver a lawn mower around all of the trees.
- Roots are growing under, and breaking up, sidewalks and century-old
- The streetlights do a wonderful job of lighting the tops of threes but the
light can longer penetrate to the sidewalk. What was a welcoming well-lit
sidewalk used by many, even late at night, is now an imposing, shadowy
walkway where you wonder who might be lurking in the shadows.
- When entering Frankfort Avenue from side streets, your view of oncoming
traffic is now blocked by the trees.
- In blocks that did not have the streetside grassy strip, they actually dug
out squares and planted trees right in the sidewalk effectively reducing by
half the pedestrian right of way. Two (ducking) walkers can hardly pass each
other in some locations.
But, they are pretty when the do-gooders drive down the street (that they
don't live on) and say "Look what a wonderful thing I did for this
neighborhood". Of course, anyone with any common sense would have planted
all of those trees along the North side of the street, where the railroad tracks
are. There are no sidewalks, thus no pedestrian traffic (except dog walkers too
lazy to pick up after their dogs) on that side of the street. The trees would
even have helped to hide and buffer the noise of the frequent freight trains. We
would still have wide, well-lit, unimpeded walkways on the business and
Alas, common sense, where for art thou? Certainly not in neighborhood