Many of the trees that once towered over Collingwood Boulevard in the Old West End and Cherrylawn Drive in South Toledo are gone, but that hasn't ended protests from residents irate over city policy they say causes unnecessary tree removal.
Former Mayor Carty Finkbeiner, who several years ago fought plans to clear trees along his street for a reconstruction project, joined a dozen property owners Monday who urged the Bell administration to find creative ways to save trees.
“Let’s make every effort, as was done on Townley [Road] and Burroughs [Drive], to save those trees,” Mr. Finkbeiner said before council's utilities and public service committee.
Earlier this year, the city removed six dozen trees along Collingwood between Ashland Avenue and Monroe Street despite objections from residents and in opposition to a recommendation issued by the federal Advisory Council on Historic Preservation. The advisory panel said the trees' removal would water down the neighborhood’s historic flavor for several decades until replacement trees can mature.
David Neuendorff, a Scottwood Avenue resident, told council that property values have dropped because of the tree removal.
"The city has ignored the residents,” Mr. Neuendorff said.
City officials said the trees had to go because the project, which includes replacing a 140-year-old water main and rebuilding the street, would damage their roots sufficiently to kill them anyway. Mr. Neuendorff and other critics said rebuilding the street to its current width is unnecessary, and narrowing Collingwood could have saved the trees.
Cherrylawn Drive resident Bill Coine told council he was sickened by the removal of about 120 trees from his street, also eroding neighborhood character. City officials said the trees needed to be cut down to make way for new sidewalks or would otherwise be damaged by the street work.
“It took 50 years for the tree in front of my house to grow,” he said. “It took 56 seconds to cut down.”
Mr. Coine said half the affected property owners do not want sidewalks installed. Some councilmen joined residents in their disappointment about the tree removal.
Councilman Mike Craig said the city has removed large shade trees and replaced them with ornamental or fruit trees that are little more than “large bushes.”
“I guess I am just disappointed with the city's cavalier attitude toward shade trees,” Mr. Craig said. "We should be looking to save our trees. …
"We were a 'Tree City.' Now we are in the midst of a deforestation.”
City spokesman Jen Sorgenfrei said the trees had to be removed for those roadway projects to proceed. “The administration evaluates every project on an individual basis, and any project that we need to remove a significant number of trees, we include in our plans replacement of the trees that need to be removed,” Ms. Sorgenfrei said.
The city chooses replacement trees that are “appropriate” for the space, she said.
Contact Ignazio Messina at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6171.