Sadness once again descended on Lake Play. My self-confessed tree-hugging neighbor said she cried for two days. “Be prepared,” she told me. They decimated two otherwise healthy live oaks; these are “sentinels!” she grieved; and excellent windbreaks, I added, especially during hurricanes.
In short what use to be lush Floridian growth — with water lilies and grasses, birds galore hanging out in the trees and with an abundance of fish in the shaded lake canopy, mushrooms growing in the trees, shade for the wildlife, and shade for those who’ve walked that path time and time again — now looks more like a stark desert of palm trees surrounding a bleak pond, letting in so much light that walking Lake Play this coming August will surely feel more like strolling on the surface of the sun.
Where this so-called clean-up started was a few years ago, with the arrival of the city’s new manager, Kelly Callihan, who headed an all-out effort. Admirable, but did you have to wipe out everything?
All of the water lilies gone. Then a Christmas tree tossed in for fish cover. Trash and weeds were removed but so were all of the grasses and other water foliage, a.k.a., the good weeds.
Then this past week, the city destroyed two live oak trees at the park for “safety” reasons. No trim back of the safety issues of these gems with three-foot-wide trunks; just a complete annihilation of otherwise healthy trees. As for those “safety” reasons, I challenge the city to list the number of folks, anywhere in the world, who’ve been killed by live oaks.
Most communities cherish these trees; Davenport obviously not so much … unless, of course, it comes with a sports complex, which are not parks at all but little more than recreation for a very specific audience. We have so few parks here, why kill the one that birthed this town?
If this is what parks and recreation is all about in Davenport, please get me a new superintendent, preferably one who doesn’t live around the corner from our city manager. (A serving of rural cronyism, anyone?) And while you’re at it, get some trash control going for that pond. Install the doggie poop stations that were suggested a millennia ago.
Get me some water lilies back in there with a budget that ensures they’re maintained and don’t get out of control. Get me some pine, like the way Lake Play use to look. Get me the self-sustaining Lake Play ecosystem.
And, for goodness sake, plant some safe oaks next time. Those killer oaks will be the death of us.
Plans for improvements at Lake Play are still in the works, including the planting of new, hopefully large, shade trees. No word yet on restoring the water lilies.