Ledger Inquirer: Rain brings down leaning pines in Weracoba Park

March 10, 2013 

Way back in late 2011, in this feature's first year, an Alert Reader named Lisa Venable wrote to report some dangerous-looking pines at Weracoba.

No, they weren't wearing hoodies, they were leaning precariously out over 17th Street, which bisects the park. At the time, they did look kind of dangerous, but Eric Gansauer, with the city's Urban Forestry and Beautification Division, assured us that they were quite safe.

They leaned because of a phenomenon called "geotropism," but they were still quite stable and safe to walk under. He also said the city periodically checks to make sure they're safe.

Apparently Gansauer was telling the truth, not that I'd doubted him. After the recent deluge of rain we had, which softened the soil and, along with some strong winds, was causing trees to topple, two of the Leaning Pines of Weracoba disappeared.

Gansauer said because of the combination of near-record rain and high winds, the two pines that were leaning most severely had to come down. But, always the forester, he defended the trees to the end.

"It was not tree failure, it was soil failure," he said. "The soil was not able to support the trees anymore."

So, Ms. Venable, I hope you're happy. It took a year-and-a-half and an act (or two) of God, but we finally got your pines down.

Update

Two weeks ago we visited Cornelia Johnson and her neighbors, who have a huge hill slowly sliding down into their backyards.

Tons of earth have slowly slid down and in two cases come into contact with the homes, causing water damage inside and out.

Their subdivision, Valley Crest, was developed by Woodruff Contracting Co. and graded by Warr Grading Co., neither of which seemed interested in either fixing the problem or talking to me about it.

Columbus Councilor Bruce Huff went to visit Johnson and her neighbors and reported the situation to Mayor Teresa Tomlinson.

Tomlinson told me she plans to send some city engineers out to study the situation and report back to her. She said she's not sure yet what the city could or should do in a private dispute between a contractor and customer.

"If we start doing that, it'll turn into a full-time job," she said.

But, she added, because a high voltage Georgia Power line runs along the ridge at the top of the crumbling hill, there could be an issue of public safety.

"Then it might be appropriate for the pubic safety director to be involved," she said.

Johnson said the situation remains the same on Valley Crest Drive. No more dirt has come down the hill since we last spoke, but she said she and her neighbors get very nervous whenever it rains.

It probably makes the remaining pines in the park kind of jumpy, too.

Seen something that needs fixing? Contact me at 706-571-8570 or mowen@ledger-enquirer.com.

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