“Trees… make it too dark and intimidating.” This was a quote from someone speaking at a meeting published in the Nov. 16 issue of the JP Gazette in an article headlined, “Future of South Street Mall starts taking shape.”
I can understand how one may feel unsafe in the presence of trees at night, which actually calls for better lighting. Trees, however, sustain a tight-knit neighborhood and, in turn, decrease crime. They “strengthen urban communities,” according to a University of Illinois study based on a Chicago housing project. The study reported that living in an area with more trees fostered stronger relationships among neighbors. Additionally, views with trees create a calming effect on the mind.
Having trees also increases the likelihood that people will spend time outside during the hot summer months, which makes committing crimes a less likely event. Without those beneficial trees in the South Street Mall, many people would suffer, including people waiting for the bus. It is quite common to witness our neighbors seeking reprieve from the scorching sun under those shady trees. The Centre/South streets area is already fragile due to the recent residential and street-tree cuttings in close proximity.
I am appealing to the senses of those involved in the South Street Mall renovation plans, as well as those who are suspicious of trees. Trees create a better, more involved community, which leads to lower crime rates. They also protect us from the intense heat of summer. It is for these reasons, along with a multitude of other benefits, that those trees should be preserved and their roots protected during construction. Let’s do our best to join Mayor Thomas Menino and “Grow Boston Greener.”