Courthouse getting new treescape soon
By Bobby Bryant, Editor
The Bradford pear trees that have flanked the Darlington County Courthouse for decades are on the way out, and new foliage is on the way in.
Darlington County Council voted 6-2 last week to endorse the City of Darlington’s proposal for removing the Bradfords and replacing them with Nelly Stevens hollies and Southern sugar maples, while adding two willow oaks. The city and county will roughly split the cost, with nearly all the city’s share coming from a $5,000 beautification grant from Duke Energy.
Council members Angie Stone Godbold and Joyce Thomas, saying they still had concerns about the city’s plan, cast the two “no” votes during council’s Feb. 7 meeting. Godbold said that this should be done as part of a wider plan to redesign the entire Courthouse grounds with an eye toward making the Public Square more inviting.
Godbold also said that she wasn’t satisfied with some of the answers the city gave in response to a list of 17 questions County Council members had about the tree plan. “They weren’t really, in my opinion, answers,” she told council. “ … Some of these responses are curt and didn’t really provide an answer.”
“I just feel like it’s premature,” Godbold said of the city’s plan. “ … I’m not against anything being done. I think the approach is wrong. I think we should work together to have a better plan and do more than just pull trees up and put trees back.”
“It just wasn’t researched enough for me,” council member Thomas said. “ … It seems like just a hurried thing.”
As he did at last month’s County Council meeting, Darlington Mayor Curtis Boyd appeared before council last week to pitch the city’s plan. “The trees around the Courthouse have looked bad for 30-something years,” Boyd said. The Bradford pears, he said, “have pretty much outlived their life.”
The Bradfords have also become Public Enemy No. 1 for many people, with Clemson University labeling them “an invasive species” and the state planning to ban the nursery sale of Bradford pears.
“My illustration is, I tell people, the Courthouse is yours,” Boyd told council. “It sits in the middle of my town that I’m the poster boy for right now … We like for it to look good. We like for people to come in and enjoy it. We have a lot of great events down there pretty much every month.”