Monday, December 22, 2008

A Tree Grows in Richmond

A lot of them do. The city of Richmond, county seat of Fort Bend County, has a whole bunch of big oak trees in it.

And the county’s Office of Emergency Management wants to chop down three of them.

The problem is, they say, if a hurricane blows any of them over, they might just take out their radio antenna. The antenna, you see, was placed right next to the trees.

Soon-to-be ex county commissioner Tom Stavinoha, whose Precinct 1 office shares a boundary with the OEM saw the OEM workers fixing to chop down one of the trees and immediately ordered them to stop.

Said Stavinoha to the Fort Bend Herald:

“I just feel like the beauty of the trees far outweighs any risk; and there’s not much of a risk, anyway. Richmond is known for its massive oak trees. If everybody cut them down because of what might happen, there wouldn’t be any oak trees in Richmond anymore.”

For now, the situation remains at a stand-off, with neither side budging, nor neither moving forward. Stavinoha claims that when he leaves office on January 1st, the trees will be dead meat.

Apparently he feels that Richard Morrison will not stand in the way of the chain saw.

Now first, I have to wonder why the antenna was erected where it was in the first place, if the trees are now such a menace to it.

I also have to wonder about Stavinoha’s new-found tree-huggery. How this laudable inclination in the direction of conservation meshes with his past penchant for laying wide ribbons of concrete across vast acres of untouched wilderness is beyond my understanding.

But in the end, I have to come down on the side of the common good, which, by the way, is what any true public servant should be inclined to do. To make the specious argument that there wouldn’t be any trees in Richmond if everyone cut them down because of what could happen misses the point. The point of the whole OEM argument is that should a natural disaster strike, and one of those trees demolishes one of the county’s main means of communicating during this emergency, their effectiveness in responding in this disaster is impaired.

And in this age of the lessons of Katrina, obstructing these emergency responders’ attempts to make their means of communications more secure seems a little delusional.


TexasSusan said...

So the new Law Palace opens down by The River this summer and all the lawyers and judges are moving out of the courthouse. My bet is that EOM will be moved to the courthouse because it could be placed on a higher floor than the ground level it sits on now, making it very subject to flooding.

Anybody who has lived in this county for any length of time knows that we play musical offices here. They keep moving departments around, probably so that the taxpayers can't find them, but that's just my opinion.

The trees were there first, which in my mind gives them the right of way.

I'll betcha my best pair of pink boots that OEM won't even be in that office by hurricane season.

To me, this is one of those deals where you ought to suspect that somebody needs firewood.

Anonymous said...

It does just make one a tad curious where Mr. Stavinoha parked his environmental zeal when the county road and bridge guys clear-cut all those old trees along McKeever Road in Arcola.

I don't recall any radio towers in the potential path of that timber, either.

But who knows? Maybe the sight of all those 80-year-old tree carcasses generated a commissioner epiphany and gave Mr. Stavinoha a new appreciation for the woods.


Anonymous said...

He didn't just park it in Arcola, but with regards to the Blue Ridge Landfill Expansion. It's always easy to be a hypocrite I guess when you are on the way out and no one is stuffing your pockets anymore.