Mount Vernon's brighter future [Letter]

December 04, 2013

It seems to me that the Save the Trees Alliance, the group of Mount Vernon residents who are fighting the replacement of trees in Mount Vernon Square, aren't seeing the forest for the trees ("Group fights to stop tree removal at Mount Vernon Place," Nov. 29). What the alliance seems to overlook is the big picture of what is planned.

Starting with just the north and south squares, the Mount Vernon Place Conservancy's plans include newly engineered soils that allow for better drainage and resist compaction, an automated irrigation system, large underground concrete vaults that contain tree roots and allow for better drainage, on-site underground rainwater collection tanks, new lighting and electrical power supply lines, new plumbing lines for the fountains and the restoration of sculptures, fountains, stairs, marble balustrades and other park amenities. The existing trees that would be removed — a large number of which are dead, diseased, dying or approaching the end of their life spans — will be replaced with an even greater number of massive specimens so large that they'll need to be hoisted into place with a crane. These will not be your common spindly street trees.

If the conservancy were forced to keep the healthy trees that the alliance wishes to save, it would not only result in a much more difficult, expensive and time consuming project (if it is even possible to work around the tree roots), but would likely prevent many of the conservancy's goals from being met and, I believe, would result in a finished project that is more visually mediocre than the strong, lush formality of the planned design.

There is plenty of precedent for wholesale removal of trees in park renovations that provide results far surpassing mediocrity. It's even happened here in Mount Vernon Square twice before in its long history. In more recent years, New Yorkers removed every last tree in Bryant Park's late 1980s renovation, and no one would argue that decision today. The spectacular results have led to a complete turnaround for what was once a dangerous park, more suited to drug dealers and homeless than the thousands of residents and tourists who now visit it daily.

As a lifelong Baltimorean, ardent preservationist and resident of Mount Vernon Square, I believe that just such an intensive approach is what the square requires. Once the project is complete, I'm confident that city residents and tourists alike will be so enamored with the results, few will be lamenting the loss of the hodgepodge of trees that once stood there.

Greg Baranoski, Baltimore

To respond to this letter, send an email to Please include your name and contact information.
Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.