Lions Club makes donation for purchase of new tree for Central Park.

The once fully-shaded Central Park in Hannibal is starting to grow brighter, which has caught the attention of the city's Tree Board.

During the June 7 meeting of the Tree Board copies of a tree survey conducted in the downtown park in 2005 were presented. When the report was compiled over a decade ago there were 56 trees in the park. Today the number is down to 31, according to Tree Board President Kristy Trevathan.

“We've lost 25 trees and some were large trees,” she said.

A major reason for the tree loss was the storm on May 20, 2013. Among the trees that were toppled or damaged beyond saving throughout town by that night's high winds were seven in Central Park, reported Trevathan.

Last month the Parks and Recreation Department (P&RD) had five Central Park trees removed, three of which were dead. Two others – a pair of sycamores located between the sidewalk and curb on the far eastern end of the park – also had to be cut down.

“They’re buckling the sidewalk,” said Andy Dorian, director of the P&RD during the April meeting of the city’s Park Board. “I hate taking out live trees but they’re buckling the sidewalks and we have all these events (in Central Park). We really don’t have a choice. They probably weren’t the best tree to plant there 30 or 40 years ago.”

Taking note of the sycamores removal were members of the Hannibal Lions Club.

“Every year the Hannibal Lions Club hosts its annual pork steak barbecue in Central Park,” said Joel Booth, past president of Hannibal Lions Club. “This year the Lions Club will be looking for alternative methods to shade their cooks due to a few old shade trees being cut down.”

During the June 7 Tree Board meeting, Booth and Cindy Cowden, president of Hannibal Lions Club, were in attendance to present a check for $250.

“The Hannibal Lions Club wanted to thank the Tree Board and the Parks and Recreation Department for making the park safer and removing the trees,” said Booth. “The Lions Club wanted to invest in shade for the future by donating money to replace the lost shade trees with a new healthy tree.”

“Two hundred and fifty dollars will buy a nice tree,” said Trevathan, who told Booth and Cowden that she will let them know what type of tree is planted in behalf of the club either this fall or next spring.

Trevathan is hopeful other service clubs will follow the Lions' lead and make donations to apply toward the purchase of more trees for Central Park.

“We have to start planting trees to retain the canopy,” she said. “It takes a long time before you have a shade tree.”

It was proposed that American Linden trees be planted.

Tree Board member Harry Graves noticed there is not a single oak in the park, according to the tree survey.

“We need to plant some trees for the future,” he said. “It's selfish to only plant trees that are grown in five years.”

And while by no means a shade tree, it was suggested that Central Park might be a good location for a few of the approximately 30 Appalachian Spring dogwoods that Branson Wood offered to purchase for planting by the Tree Board during its May meeting.

In addition to what kinds of trees would be best suited for planting in Central Park, also up for consideration by the Tree Board was where in the park new trees should be located. One area identified was in the park's northeast corner, near the restrooms.

Another area proposed for consideration is between the sidewalk and Broadway on the park's south side. That location may not be usable, however, because a fiber-optics line is believed to run through that area.



Reach reporter Danny Henley at