Two-hundred years ago, the British poet William Blake observed, "The tree which moves some to tears of joy is in the eyes of others only a green thing that stands in the way."

For a very long time, Madison has seen trees as green things that stand in the way of developers, utility companies and city planners who seem to view them as little more than expendable frills.

Exhibit A for me is the the space occupied by Library Mall and Alumni Park. Library Mall seems to have morphed into a permanent construction zone -- noisy, muddy, chaotic and, of course, treeless. Alumni Park, part of the astronomically expensive remake of Memorial Union, consists of regimented rows of trees, all the same, creating a space as uninviting as it is unimaginative. It's heartbreaking to see photos of this area from decades ago with its luxuriance of beautiful old shade trees.

I applaud the creation of the Urban Forestry Taskforce (albeit 30 or 40 years late). I fear, however, that like so many well-intentioned undertakings, it will have little effect against the forces that have turned so much of Madison into bleak expanses of brick and concrete.

Gary L. Kriewald, Madison