PORT ANGELES — City plans to cut down and replace nine sycamore trees along Peabody Street between Fourth and Fifth streets have raised concerns among some neighbors.
The trees are costly to maintain, could create electrical issues, have ruined the sidewalk and have created a tripping hazard, Craig Fulton, Port Angeles public works director, told the City Council on Tuesday night.
“Those are nine wrong trees in the wrong place,” he said.
The trees are to be removed next week. Once they are gone, the plan is to replace the sidewalk, likely in 2017, then put in more trees.
For some who live and work in the area, it came as a shock to find out the city would be cutting the trees.
Among those who don’t want to see the trees go is Tayler McCrorie, a mental health counselor at New Growth Behavioral Health Services, which has a view of the trees.
When she first found out, her concern was for her clients who enjoy the trees.
“I have a mental health counseling practice, and the first thing I did when I moved into that office was position the couch to look out the windows at the trees and put up mirrors so I could see them,” she said in a Facebook message.
“They create such a beautiful and peaceful atmosphere in my office amid talking about oftentimes stressful and difficult topics.”
From her desk, she often sees people stop to admire the trees’ beauty.
However, the trees must go for financial and safety reasons, Fulton said.
The city spends $8,000 each year to trim the trees because they continue to grow through the power lines.
The trees were originally going to be cut this week, but Fulton delayed the cutting to make more people aware about why the trees are being cut, he said.
He received calls from residents who work and live in the area who did not want to see the trees go, he said.
It isn’t only a cost-saving measure; by removing the trees, the city will be able to replace the cracked sidewalk and make it compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, he said.
“The main reason is to improve the safety for residents as they are walking along that area,” he said. “Peabody is a highly trafficked area, and this will improve our ADA compliance for the handicapped and elderly.”
Not only could people get hurt if the trees stay, but the city could get sued, he said.
The new trees will be trees appropriate for the area, Fulton said.
The species of tree hasn’t yet been decided, but the city has a list of trees that are appropriate in certain locations prepared by the city arborist, he said.
“We need to develop a final plan, removal of stumps, rebuilding those sidewalks, then while doing that, replace them with appropriate trees that will remain small,” he said.
While McCrorie appreciates the city’s plan to plant new trees, she is concerned they will be replaced with young trees that would take years to become full.
“I’ve heard the argument that they were never supposed to be planted there in the first place,” she said. “But since they were, don’t we have a responsibility to care for them?”
Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at jmajor@peninsula dailynews.com.