Auburn city officials and members of the community gathered on a sunny Tuesday morning to rename the tree trail in Town Creek Park to honor George Bengtson for his lasting and meaningful contributions to the site.
The Auburn Tree Commission recently recommended the name change to the Auburn City Council, which immediately approved the proposal. The name of the trail is now the George Bengtson Historic Tree Trail.
The dedication took place June 19 at 10 a.m. at the beginning of the walkway for the trail, where an informational board featuring the new name was unveiled.
Jim Shepard, chairman of the Tree Trail Committee, said Bengtson is more than deserving of the honor because of his contributions.
As chairman of the committee, he was thoughtful and made sure to get everyone’s input, even following up with committee members one-on-one if they were quiet during meetings, Shepard said.
Forming a tree trail is difficult work because many of the trees are not native to the area, which is what made Bengtson’s work so appreciated, Shepard said.
“We’ve had some Red Maples die recently,” Shepard said. “One of the things with historic trees is that when you move something from Charles Lindbergh’s home town farm in Minnesota to Alabama, ecologically, it’s not necessarily a good thing to move trees that far.”
Bengtson was involved with the site since its beginning. He got the idea to start the trail after reading about an historic tree trail in the Toyota Owner Magazine. He loved the idea and thought it would be a great thing to add to Auburn.
After getting the City Council to approve the location, Bengtson and a friend raised all the money needed to get the trail started.
The Tree Trail Committee has added a wide array of trees, which are mostly not native to the area. Their most recent addition is one of Pat Dye's famous Japanese Maples.
The work that Bengtson displayed is symbolic of the great talents that make up such an enjoyable community, said Mayor Bill Ham.
“There are a lot of things we do in the city that may bring a little controversy one way or the other," Ham said to the crown gathered around the dedication sign. "But not too many people get upset at something like a tree trail and what it brings to our community. So, on behalf of all the City Council and the citizens, thank you for all you do."
These kinds of places around the city, such as the tree trail, are great for the community because they will be used and appreciated for generations down the line, Ham said.
Those in attendance included soon-to-be retied City Arborist James Jennings, City Manager James Buston and multiple former members of the Auburn Tree Commission.
The Auburn Beautification Council also presented the Robert and Alice Crittenden Service Award at the event.