After yesterday's dust-up over the weekend removal of trees at Elm and North Harwood Streets, a few downtown-dwelling Friends of Unfair Park are a bit skittish. Hence, the myriad what-the-what e-mails we've received over the past hour asking about the removal of eight elm trees on Main Street between Pearl and North Harwood Streets. Crews are out there at this very moment -- Daniel saw 'em on his way back from commissioners court, matter of fact.
But, fret not: These elms are being removed at the city's insistence as part of a public-works improvement project involving the replacement of a water main and the installation of sidewalk pavers and other landscaping improvements between the Municipal Building and the parking garage. "These old elm trees were dying anyway," says Chuck Parson, who's out there overseeing the chopping-down. They cut down eight trees, says Parson, who told Daniel the project should be complete by spring 2011.
Phil Erwin, the city's chief arborist, told me this morning that, yes, "the timing could have been better, because when you have so few trees in a highly dense area, it gets a lot of attention" when a whole bunch of 'em start disappearing. "And, I never like watching trees come down for any purpose, but there are times when it's necessary," like when trees get too big for their tiny openings in the sidewalk and their roots get tangled up with infrastructure.
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"Hopefully, in most cases trees are replaced, but it's the nature of downtown planting that many of those trees will have a tough time surviving," he says. "It's never something I look forward to, but being a forest manager we have to deal with the conservation of trees more than the preservation of trees. It's the nature of being in an urban environment."