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Is there room for trees along the Centro’s streets?

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In the Centro, trees on the sidewalk are both good and bad, reports a local newspaper. Above, Calle 53 makes room for black calabash. Photo: Imagine Merida

Mérida, Yucatán — A campaign to bring more green to the city has been ongoing for years, but do trees belong on the narrow sidewalks of the Centro?

Renovated homes in the historic district often squeeze in a tree or two, or three, in front of their facades. This is problematic, a reporter in Milenio Novadades reported

The ecological culture of well-intended foreigners that inhabit the neighborhoods of the Centro has become present with tree planting on the sidewalks, writes Joel González, in Spanish.

Trees may be good for the environment, but it impacts historic architecture and blocks pedestrians, especially those in wheelchairs.

Businesses get in big trouble chopping down trees in more modern neighborhoods, and the city even gives away trees to reforest the city. But the story suggests trees in the crowded Centro are best left to courtyards.

The lack of regulations has caused a legal vacuum, so trees remain planted where they don’t really fit, says Lindbergh Herrera Balam, president of the Asociación Yucateca de Especialistas en Restauración y Conservación del Patrimonio Edificado A.C. Yucatán.

He said that urban planning is necessary to counter tree-planting activists greening the center. 

Herrera Balam said he favors the presence of foreigners who are restoring historic homes. That is because the restorations are well executed, based on established building regulations, and are completed with permits from national Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) and the coordination of Urban Development unit of the city.

Some trees take up more room than others because their trunks’ bases are ringed with iron or concrete borders. That might keep stray animals at bay, but can present a tripping hazard on already tricky sidewalks.

Residents who have been playing the role of tree activist have recommended black calabash trees for their leaves that stay green and don’t drop on the ground, and their roots that don’t spread to the point that they break the sidewalk.

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