Long Beach citizens push to preserve historic downtown oak tree

Long Beach residents are pushing to preserve two historic oak trees in downtown.
Published: Jan. 20, 2023 at 2:04 AM CST|Updated: Jan. 20, 2023 at 7:41 AM CST
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LONG BEACH, Miss. (WLOX) - Long Beach residents are pushing to preserve two historic oak trees in downtown.

This comes after a developer bought the Jeff Davis property and asked for permission to remove the trees for future hotel plans. Three large oak trees stand in downtown Long Beach, but that could soon change. Future hotel plans are in the works.

Sarah Renken, owner of the Southern Magnolia Realty property, says developers are aiming to plant their hotel on her lot.

“When we started coming up with how much space they would need and how much building space is available on the lot, there’s two oak trees on the front,” said Renken. “One oak tree is large and the umbrella is very big, so it takes up a lot of the buildings space,”

Back in December, the Long Beach tree board suggested saving the trees. The planning commission voted to save the oaks until developers submit their building plans.

Back in December, the Long Beach tree board suggested saving the trees. The planning commission...
Back in December, the Long Beach tree board suggested saving the trees. The planning commission voted to save the oaks until developers submit their building plans.(City of Long Beach)

In the proposed hotel design, you can see the yellow portion show where the oak would get in the way of construction plans.

Proposed Long Beach hotel layout
Proposed Long Beach hotel layout(staff)

“Long Beach is one of the last cities to really come back from Hurricane Katrina,” Renken added. “Long Beach still has a lot of vacancies. They knew that having this happen would really really help the city.”

Debi Caldwell agrees a new hotel would attract more tourists to her town, but the cost of losing of of the long-standing landmarks is too much.

“I feel like we need to keep theses beautiful majestic oaks. They’re wonderful,” she said.

Caldwell is a member of the Long Beach gardening club. She started a petition to preserve the tree and stop removal. So far, she’s collected over 400 signatures in just two days.

She met with an arborist that said if the mother tree is cut down, it’ll lead to the endangerment of other trees dying over the next 10 years.

“Essentially, when we cut that tree, we’ve really cut all of them. I just want her to build responsibly and maybe make it where the hotel and trees can co-exist and be beautiful together for our Main Street,” said Caldwell.

Renken said she’s discussed options with the tree board to register the second tree to have it saved.

The next city board meeting is February 9th at 5 p.m. in Long Beach City Hall.

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