Another one bites the dust: ax beckons to the last of the courthouse trees

The lone evergreen tree left standing on the lawn of the historic courthouse in downtown Waynesville will soon be coming down.


Haywood County commissioners last month decided to cut all the stately maples gracing the lawn of the historic courthouse, citing disease and liability from falling limbs.

The evergreen was left in place along one side of the courthouse, however. At the time, county leaders saw no reason to cut it. But with all the other trees coming down, it looks out of place, they said.

“The more work we do, the more it stands out,” said Chairman Mark Swanger.

So Haywood commissioners unanimously voted this week to cut the remaining evergreen down as well and start from scratch with a new landscaping plan.

While some have lamented the loss of the large shade trees and the barren lawn left in their wake, commissioners said it looks better without the trees, citing the unobstructed views of the iconic historic courthouse itself.

“I realized how grand a building this is,” said Commissioner Kevin Ensley.

Commissioner Mike Sorrells said he noticed the difference when driving down Main Street Monday morning on the way to the meeting.

“It was all of a sudden very noticeable how everything opened up,” Sorrells said.

The county’s maintenance department has felled all but three of the sugar maples and will finish the job by the end of this week, said Dale Burris, county maintenance director

“We are moving forward as fast as we can,” Burris said.

A new landscaping scheme for what to plant back has not yet been developed.

With the trees now gone, the county is contemplating moving the flagpole. Currently it sits on the right side of the building, but it should be placed on the left side in accordance with flag etiquette.

The decision to cut down the 11 maple trees on the courthouse grounds has been discussed on and off in recent years. An independent arborist hired by the county to assess the trees’ health in February deemed them unsafe and a liability, sealing their fate.

Some have decried the loss of the trees, however, saying they did not seem outwardly diseased and that the trees provided coveted shade during downtown street festivals and parades.

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