Public Works Commissioner Darryl Smalls is helping to revise plans for road expansion, possibly sparing some of the mahogany trees lining entrances to Havensight Mall, Sen. Shawn-Michael Malone said Friday.
Several trees were marked incorrectly, focusing the attention of the community on a line of trees – each marked with a large orange X – along the front of Havensight Mall,
“The good news to me in all this is they fired the surveyor who mis-surveyed the road by marking at the wrong center,” said Malone. “That resulted in the trees that are going in the median to be marked incorrectly. When (the Department of Public Works) learned this was wrong, they acted fast.”
According to Malone, the number of trees to be cut is approximately three to five, not five exactly. He said Smalls’ efforts to shift the road have likely saved two of the five.
“I only count three,” he said. “I don’t know where the other two come from unless they’re other diseased trees.”
As for the health of the trees, information is still unavailable about what might be infecting them, but Malone noted that in past tree-removal projects such as one near the Western Cemetery, they discovered mahogany trees that were hollow. He believes this is the case with the Havensight trees.
“When the mahogany tree starts to grow hollow, something is wrong inside,” he said. “They put the tree down and we can actually sit down inside that tree. If there’s a hard wind blowing and that huge mahogany tree falls, it can crush cars and kill people.”
Malone stressed the need to maintain the trees in hopes that these illnesses can be identified earlier and then treated. He urged residents to call Public Works and the University of the Virgin Islands to discuss maintenance and annual check-ups.
“With all the construction going on, we’ll need to maintain them afterwards. I’m sure it’ll be impacted by dust,” said Malone, speaking of the current construction on Frenchman’s Bay Road up to Mandela Circle. “We really need to look at the health of the trees. We need to make sure they stay healthy and they can last long. We don’t want them to be a detriment to motorists and pedestrians.”
Although Malone is looking to the future for tree maintenance, he admits the trees slated for removal are a risk to residents and tourists.
“Are we going to wait for something bad to happen? What if something happens and those trees are hit by lightning, or a hard wind blows or something happens and it snaps?” he questioned. “You don’t want these people to be in jeopardy.”