Our tree sculptures are a symbol of recovery to us in Galveston turning our loss into something positive.
It was almost 2 years ago on Sept, 13 that Hurricane Ike struck Galveston. The destruction Island wide was devastating. Weeks after the rebuilding we saw some of our majestic oak trees start to die off. Rather than just cut them down folks decided to turn them into art. There are about 30 of the sculptures around town all are within view from sidewalks and the roads. The informal Tree Sculpture Tour has become a popular thing to do on our Island, and the homeowners have been so gracious.
The City in its never ending efforts to punish efforts to do good, has assessed a fee of $10.00 to the home owners who tolerate visitors coming by to observe and take pictures in front of their homes.
As a sign of recovery and as a sign of the creativity and spirit of humankind, a group of local artists began to sculpt the stumps of the dead trees, creating mermaids, angels and hope from the dying remnants. There are about 20 such sculptures scattered around the city. Three are on public right of way — hence the $10 fee.
Beauty always is in the eye of the beholder, but the sculpted trees are beautiful. They have gained worldwide attention on the Internet. The public art is altogether a good and positive thing for a city that still struggles to get its feet back on the ground after a devastating hurricane.
For the city to charge homeowners a $10 fee for a sculpture is ridiculous. Nonetheless, the license-to-use fee applies because the tree sculptures are “designed” and thus fall into the category of right-of-way infrastructure. Galveston didn’t see the original trees as right-of-way infrastructure. But the sculptures — well, that’s another matter. Rules, after all, are rules.
While Tilloson generously offers to pay the $30.00 for the home owners. I respectfully suggest that in these hard times that if the city is so desperate that they can save a lot more money by eliminating the positions of whoever came up with this decision. When a department comes up with ridiculous ideas, it is a sure sign that there are too many idle minds in one place. The savings would be significantly more than the annoying fees they are subjecting the homeowners too.