WINNSBORO — A famous couplet by Joyce Kilmer states “I think that I shall never see/A poem lovely as a tree.”
Winnsboro Town Council feels the tree in Gazebo Park, which has been decorated as the town Christmas tree in the past, is less than lovely after recent landscaping.
“They butchered it,” said Winnsboro Town Councilman Stan Klaus, District 3.
The tree is located on property known locally as Gazebo Park, which is owned by Fairfield County. A recent pruning conducted by Fairfield County maintenance staff included trimming the notable tree.
During the Town of Winnsboro’s Monthly Finance Meeting, the state of the tree drew derisive comparisons to the infamously sparse tree featured prominently in the television staple “A Charlie Brown Christmas.”
An email sent by William Medlin, electric utility director for Town of Winnsboro, to the Town of Winnsboro Finance Committee was included in the packets for the committee meeting and encapsulated the situation.
“The tree that Winnsboro has decorated for Christmas in on property that is owned by Fairfield County,” the email reads. “Recently the county pruned their bushes in Gazebo Park on Congress St., they also pruned the tree that we decorate for Christmas, and this tree is no longer suitable for use as a Christmas tree.”
Medlin’s email states he understands the pruning was intended to improve public safety in the park.
Deputy County Administrator Davis Anderson explained the property known as Gazebo Park had become overgrown, and the county had received complaints regarding people, possibly intoxicated people, sleeping behind overgrown vegetation.
“We (the county) had a request from some citizens that the park was so overgrown that some people were sleeping behind the bushes,” Anderson said.
Anderson said trimming was primarily done around the base of the tree to provide a clean line of sight.
“It was for safety purposes,” Anderson said.
Medlin said the pruning was understandable.
“I understand why they did it, and I’m not mad at the county,” Medlin said.
Klaus added that while the trimming was drastic, the improved visibility will help Winnsboro Department of Public Safety as well as county law enforcement.
He added while the area was landscaped, bottles and drug paraphernalia were found and the area smelled strongly of urine.
During the meeting, Medlin said he would like to research alternative Christmas tree options before making a formal expenditure request, although, one early consideration is a $7,000 16-foot-tall artificial tree, which comes pre-wired with lights but without decorations. Another option being considered is a tree near the mail drop on the north side of Town Hall.
“We’re in the process of looking at a tree now,” Medlin said.
Reach Ben Hohenstatt at 803-635-4016. Follow him on Twitter @WinnsboroHerald