Trees May Be Cut Down Around Hancock County Courthouse

Five trees that have provided shade around the County Courthouse for years will soon get the ax, and that's not sitting well with some business owners in old town Bay St. Louis.

"I'm afraid that the entire complexion of the town is going to be changed by taking away more of the green space and cutting down some of the older trees," business owner Ellis Anderson said. "I hate to see the whole town get sort of a paved over look."

The trees on the chopping block include two sycamores a live oak, a water oak and a southern yew. The architect says at least three trees were planted to close to the building and the roots of the trees are now cracking the foundation of the building.

"These are doing some substantial damage to the foundation and sidewalks of the courthouse," architect Edward Wikoff said. "These three trees will be coming out and will be replaced with new trees located further away from the courthouse.These cracks here and on either side of the granted are potentially caused by the roots to this tree."

Wikoff says the two sycamore trees are diseased. Clearing them will make room for a new parking spaces on both sides of the Courthouse.

"There's only a few mornings a week when the parking really is a problem, I'm hoping people will be willing to walk a little further to preserve our green space," Anderson said.

"We have this gorgeous green like park space around our courthouse," business owner Pam West said. "We don't need a few parking spaces more than we need that pretty green space and these beautiful old trees that have been there forever. I look out of my office window, and I see children playing under the trees."

West and other merchants have started a petition drive in hopes of getting county leaders to save the trees. Downtown business owners say there are several options to save the trees that architects haven't considered. They plan to discuss those options with county leaders at next Monday's Board of Supervisors meeting.