City to plant new oaks, clear unwanted trees along Esplanade

Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s administration is looking for a contractor to start replenishing the somewhat diminished canopy of oak trees along the Esplanade Avenue neutral ground between North Rampart and North Miro streets.

The city plans to spend about $450,000 in federal Community Disaster Block Grant money on the project, which should begin early this summer.

While the portion of Esplanade that runs alongside the French Quarter, from the Mississippi River to Rampart, is still lush and leafy, the foliage on the neutral ground above Rampart has grown more sparse and haphazard. A handful of oak trees appear to be beyond saving, and many crepe myrtles are in no better shape.

The city’s plan calls for adding 27 new oaks and removing nine oaks the city considers to be in “major decline” and posing a hazard. The contractor also will remove dead wood from otherwise healthy trees, clear out other small trees and shrubs, and lay down sod in some areas.

The idea, according to Landrieu spokesman Tyler Gamble, is to “restore the corridor to its original condition by rejuvenating the existing oak canopy, planting new live oak trees, simplifying the plant palette through selective removals and restoring the turf.”

The detailed schematics available on the city’s website show a whole array of other trees and shrubs that have apparently colonized the neutral ground, including yaupon, ligustrum, sycamore, mimosa, tallow and at least one mulberry. All are slated to be removed, along with the odd slab of concrete and other debris.

City Hall hasn’t selected a contractor for the job, but Gamble said whoever does the work will mark plants scheduled for removal in case they were planted by neighbors who want to reclaim them.