BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Biloxi's new baseball stadium took a big step forward Thursday, but that progress was bittersweet for many. That's because demolition crews knocked down 19 live oak trees which stood in the way of construction.
Everyone knew this day was coming, but that didn't make it any easier for some.
The trees that collectively represent hundreds of years came down in a matter of minutes. Before the crack of the bat could be heard at MGM Park, the sound of snapping limbs filled the construction site as 19 marked trees suddenly became fallen oaks.
"Bittersweet to see the trees coming down. I know there's a lot of support here for baseball though, so we're looking forward to moving forward," team owner, Tim Bennett said.
Bennett says taking down the trees is a necessary step in clearing the way for stadium construction.
"I think we're pretty much on schedule, might be a little behind. I think with the good weather we'll catch up. We've got a great crew out here taking down the trees, doing the demolition and getting ready for our foundations," Bennett explained.
The oaks came down with little fanfare. Taxi drivers who normally park next to the site offered mixed reactions to watching the large trees give way to heavy equipment.
"Well, it's a shame. But progress, you know progress, we've got to have it," said one driver.
"The good comes with the bad. That's usually how it goes," added another driver.
"I've seen these trees withstand a whole lot, but the one thing they could not withstand was the power of money," said a third taxi driver.
Some workers involved in taking down the trees were surprised at the poor condition of the live oaks. Many showed signs of rotting and disease.
"I have taken down trees for over 50 years," said W.C. "Cotton" Fore, who operated one of the track hoes that pulled down the trees.
He confirmed these trees were in poor condition.
"They're rotten. The limbs are rotten and the trunks are rotten all the way down to the ground. The reason they're coming down so easy is because of the rotting and the disease that's in the trees," said Fore.
Now you'll recall, there were plans to salvage some of the wood from these trees for use in maritime projects. From the looks of the logs and what the workers told WLOX News, there may be very little wood that's in good enough condition to re-purpose.