Maintaining Knoll Park key in Fairhope

With the number of longleaf pine trees in Knoll Park, there’s a kind of quiet there you won’t find in many other places.

“You almost don’t hear the traffic noise going by. You do hear the birds that we’re hearing singing and the breeze in the trees and so forth,” Peggy Dyson, chair of the Knoll Park Committee, said. “It’s a real look at the natural world that we’re so lucky to have held onto here.”

The committee has been working since 2007 to restore the longleaf pine ecosystem through controlled burns. This helps protect the young pines from harmful diseases.

“It involves encouraging wildflowers and other natural growth that doesn’t require the sort of intensive management that a park like the ones along the bay require” Dyson said.

However, not everyone is sold on the state of the park right now.

“It’s a beautiful piece of property, there’s no doubt about that. It would be nice if it was just kept up. The way that it is now, it’s actually a fire hazard. This brush on the bottom here could go up at any time,” Gary Scovil, a Fairhope resident, said. “If they just put a little lawn in and mowed it or took care of it, it would be not only better looking, it would be safer.”

Still others agree with Dyson.

“I don’t see how they could possibly have a manicured park with turf and take care of having fires to open the pine cones for those trees. So I think they have different purpose,” Philip Morgan, a Wisconsin native, said.

The city is in the process of making the park committee a part of the city council. They said once people realize the purpose of the current landscape and the burns, they will come to appreciate what’s there.

“It’s more of just a lack of understanding. People just don’t know what’s going on. They see what they might view as an unkempt park, but they don’t really realize that it’s part of a process that we are, in fact, trying to create something that is really unique,” Councilwoman Diana Brewer said.

“I would really encourage those who haven’t, who see this as less attractive than they would like to give this a chance,” Dyson said. “To come see what there is: all this beauty, all this nature.”

Councilwoman Diana Brewer says the council will discuss an ordinance to bring in the knoll park committee when the meet again on the 24th. The council is also considering adding some manicured flowerbeds to the perimeter of the park as a compromise.

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