Chuck and I attended several City Council meetings and committee meetings last fall and winter. We listened, we spoke, we discussed. Neighbors attended, too, and said their piece.
Last night as I pulled out of my driveway, a neighbor waved me over to her side of the road. “Did you hear?” she asked, her voice breaking. “We’re losing the trees!”
Let’s put it together. Our small street is up for replacement of sewer lines and utilities, followed by reconstructing and repaving. It’s time. It’ll be costly, but that’s part of home ownership in a decent neighborhood like this. The trees along the street are old and huge. Some stand higher than the two-story homes on the block. Others branch out or lean over the street.
The Department of Public Works (DPW) considered narrowing the street in order to salvage the trees nearest the road. They would narrow the road by one foot on each side, and the elderly trees could stay.
Readers, you know me well. I’m Daisy, the dirt-loving tree-hugging organic gardener on this block. I’ve taught science at four different grade levels. I own two rain barrels and two backyard compost bins. I am environmentalist: hear me roar!
But this is no time for the Lorax to make an appearance. I respect the Dr. Seuss character as I do all of the good Doc’s compassionate critters. This time, however, the emotions and the practical reality oppose each other.
The trees in question are common species. There are a few red maples, a beech, an ash, and a silver maple or two. We’re not destroying the biodiversity of the neighborhood by taking these beasts down. These trees already exist in abundance in the park two blocks away. Most neighbors have at least one other tree to shade their backyards.
Trees along roads don’t live as long as other trees. They ingest the fumes of car exhaust. Their root systems are damaged by sidewalk construction and repair. As our impending summer of the sewer goes on, another side of the tree’s root systems will suffer and weaken. Add in the potential construction of lateral sewer lines from at least two homes, and the arboreal beauties are getting undercut (literally) on three sides.
Remember last September? A short but powerful windstorm destroyed a considerable number of large, old trees in the center of our city. Now imagine the scenario. Old trees, significantly weakened by construction, remain, towering over the picturesque Victorian homes on the street. Then a storm comes.
This is not an emotional decision. It’s practical. I taught elementary and middle school science long enough to recognize that trees, like any other living being, have a finite life cycle. Making the road smaller in order to salvage trees that are weakened on three sides does not make sense – even to this eco-green groundskeeper.
So bring it on, utility crews. Quickly, before the wealthy & influential neighbors decide to open the issue again.