Commercial Record

Woodmen may spare maple after all

By Scott Sullivan
Woodmen may spare the 70-year-old maple near Douglas City Hall first slated for removal to make way for a west side of Union Street sidewalk after all.
City manager Rich LaBombard reported July 4 council, hearing residents’ pleas to save it, had directed him to work with the city engineer and an arborist to seek a Union at Center streets sidewalk reconfiguration that might do so.
Residents Bud Baty and Betsy York reiterated at the next night’s council meeting arguments presented in last week’s Commercial Record to spare the tree. Demethrea Terrien and Dan Urquhart did as well, the latter in broader-based public comments critical of recent city actions.
“It’s not an aesthetics issue,” Mayor Jerry Donovan, whose home lies on the east side of that stretch between Center and Blue Star Highway, told protestors that night. “It’s a public safety issue.
“We have more pedestrians using that stretch between downtown and waterfront attractions west of Blue Star. I see them now walking past my house on the street where cars are. A sidewalk makes sense there,” the mayor said.
Baty’s letter, included in the night’s council packet and excerpted here last week, recalled the maple’s historic value.
“A citizens group who spearheaded the renovation of Dutchers Lodge (into today’s city hall) years ago fought to save the tree,” he said. “It serves as an anchor for the building and neighborhood. Trees do more good for the community and climate than slabs of concrete.”
York’s letter listed three concerns:
• Economic. “People come here for many reasons,” she said, “but one of them is because the city is pretty. Studies have shown that trees make a place attractive. This is a beautiful and healthy tree.”
• Rural Character. “Another aspect of this location,” York went on, “is the rural aspect or no sidewalks. Admittedly, this can be tough on people using wheelchairs but this is a tradeoff I think we need to make.”
• Climate Change. “Trees are vital to slowing climate change,” she wrote. “A 70-year-old tree holds a lot of CO2 which will be released upon removal. I imagine it will take years for another tree to grow large enough to absorb the same among.
“I see no reason good enough, at this time, to take a tree out and replace it with concrete,” York said.

2 Replies to “Woodmen may spare maple after all

  1. The Mayor also owns the West Section of Union from Blue Star Hiway halfway to Chestnut. He will be donating about 250-300 square feet for this project to be completed. He will receive no property tax relief while lessening the value of his lot. I look forward to you including this in the next issue of The Commercial Record for purposes of clarification.

  2. Just kidding about the next issue/clarification part.
    Didn’t want people thinking I didn’t want it on “…my side of the street.”

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