I wanted to put out a quick update about what was going on with the trees along Washington Blvd.
On Thursday, September 9th, several members of our neighborhood, including Sylvia Lacy, Vince Albrecht, Jim Downey, and myself, met with officials from CD-10, Urban Forestry, and Street Services regarding the trees and the sidewalks along Washington Blvd., particularly in between Victoria Ave. and Wellington Rd. We had a very fruitful meeting and made progress on agreeing to “sympathetically repair the sidewalk” (as Jim put it) in that area, without harming the trees. Greg Monfette from Urban Forestry was very knowledgable, and said the city would not cut the roots of the trees to accommodate the sidewalks. He felt that would most likely cause the demise of the trees – and both Jim and Vince (in the research they had done) were happy to hear that news, since that’s what their findings had found as well. Greg said he couldn’t promise that they’d never cut any of the trees down – if a problem occurred in laying the new sidewalk, whereby one of the trees became unstable (which is unlikely) or if over time, any of the trees became a danger to pedestrians or cars – then of course, the trees would have to be removed. But short of that, it was the city’s opinion to let them stay and work around them.So, it was decided that the best option would be to raise the sidewalk in some areas where necessary (to go over the roots) and go around it in some other spots – trimming the sidewalk down to an ADA-compliant 3+ ft in a few key spots to go around the trees. The current sidewalks are 6 ft – so there might easily be enough room to go around the roots, and still be in compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act. Street Services was going to put together two quotes for the city for how much it would cost to replace those sections of the sidewalk – one using concrete, and the other using asphalt (which of course, is much cheaper). Now, it remains to be seen whether, given the current budget crisis, the city will even have any money to do this work at all right now or not. But at least we know what our options are – and know that when and if this work gets done, the trees in our neighborhood will be saved. The last issue on the agenda had to do with crown reduction pruning – cutting down parts of the tops of the trees to reduce their top-heaviness – and thereby, reducing the risk that one would become to weighty, and start to come down in a strong wind, or even just due to erosion and other soil factors. To this end, Jim, Vince, and Paul Papanek – and the other members of the beautification committee are still looking at the options. Urban Forestry confirmed that any crown reduction pruning would be outside of the fiscal realm of the city – but he did agree that it was an appropriate step. He told Jim Downey that he would work with our neighborhood to get the necessary permits, and possibly even be on-site during the pruning. The beautification committee is working on a recommendation now – and figuring out exactly what that would entail – so that the neighborhood can decide what, if anything, we want to do further. So, thanks to Sylvia and the members of the beautification committee for their persistence and hard work in coordinating this important meeting – and further working to make sure that our trees and our sidewalks are taken care of. And I’m sure that there are things that I may have left out of this update – so if any of you would like to add your two cents to these details, please feel free to do so.