DALLAS — The change after street trees were removed on the 600 and 700 block of Main Street has been described as “a shock,” but necessary, according to city officials.
Cutting down the trees, in addition to demolition of the sidewalk on that stretch, are part of a $1.1 million Dallas Urban Renewal project to upgrade the street, similar to what was done in 2013 on the 800 and 900 blocks of Main Street.
“In order to replace the sidewalk and match the 800-900 block on Main Street, the trees needed to be removed,” said Michael Peirce, project manager.
Residents concerned about the removal of the trees have expressed their displeasure on social media, and even at a recent city council meeting.
“It really looks unattractive. I don’t know how that came about, but those trees are irreplaceable,” said a Dallas resident at the Sept. 3 council meeting. “The downtown doesn’t have the appeal and the attraction that it once had.”
Following the man’s comment, Mayor Brian Dalton said taking down the trees is part of the urban renewal project. He acknowledged that the appearance of the street changed significantly.
“We plan to plant new trees there fairly soon, and hopefully they will grow to be prosperous and grow large,” Dalton said. “It’s all part of a major plan to upgrade (downtown). But it is kind of a shock, quite frankly. You are not the first to have mentioned it.”
Peirce said the trees weren’t just an obstacle to improvements.
“The roots had caused significant heaving and crumbling of the sidewalks and parking stalls, making it very difficult to navigate,” Peirce said.
The city consulted with Kristin Ramstad, the program manager of Oregon Department of Forestry’s Urban & Community Forests Program, prior to the removal of the trees.
“She stated that the trees were beyond their life expectancy for a street tree,” Peirce said. “She also stated that the trees were out of room to continue to grow.”
New trees will be planted as part of the improvements. Peirce said the city’s park department is researching trees that are less likely to cause sidewalk damage.
“The new trees that will be planted will also follow our city standard for planting that requires a root barrier that will keep roots from growing under the sidewalk and roadway,” Peirce said. “This will also keep infrastructure from being damaged, as well as water mains and services, communication, power and gas lines.”