Why does it seem like trees and this city just don’t get along?
Time and time again we are faced with residents upset with city officials cutting down trees.
And the funny thing is, both sides agree that trees serve an important function in an urban area.
So why do we continue to have this stand-off?
Part of the problem is that when it comes down to it, city officials have the last say. And if they think a tree is a nuisance and has to go, it goes, no matter how passionately residents may protest.
Take for example last week when a fuss was raised over the removal of a tree on Florian near Dubois.
Residents there protested the scheduled removal of the tree during the holidays and won a short reprieve until the newly-hired city manager could take a look.
The city manager agreed with the Public Works director that it was sticking out into the street too much, despite the fact that for about 60-70 years no one complained about the tree.
That tree provided shade and beauty for the block, and in one day it was gone –70 years worth of living over in an instant.
You can’t replace a tree like that.
We don’t know about you, but we don’t mind a little funkiness when it comes to trees. So what if this particular tree stuck out too much and the city lost a parking space?
Oh, and the tree was blocking water drainage. Huh? Really, all this time the block managed to function well enough but all of a sudden this tree posed a threat?
Part of Hamtramck’s charm is it doesn’t look like a cookie-cutter suburb with its houses in neat rows and trees perfectly matched. Yes, some sidewalks buckle because of trees, but if you ask most residents they would rather keep their tree than have a perfect sidewalk.
Over the years Hamtramck has lost too many of its trees. It started when a tornado touched down in July of 1997 and knocked down about 500 huge old trees. Many blocks lost every single tree.
Since then there have been periodic campaigns by the city to take down more trees that had caused sidewalks to buckle up, despite there being alternative ways to manage trees, such as shaving down the offending roots.
In some parts of Europe they don’t have concrete sidewalks and instead use asphalt. That means when tree roots cause the asphalt to crumble, it’s a lot less expensive to fix.
Hamtramck would be wise to put a halt to cutting down perfectly healthy trees and come up with a commission to mediate between the city and residents. We also need an aggressive replanting plan to make this a tree-friendly city.
Let’s do this before spring arrives and get on a path that will make us a healthy and safe city to walk in.