In Response to Questions Regarding Removal of Trees Along Detroit AvenueOctober 15, 2020
City of Lakewood Continues Commitment to Urban Tree Canopy Improvements
The City of Lakewood is on pace to plant 400 trees in 2020, meeting its commitment to a healthy and vibrant urban tree canopy.
Mayor Meghan George said, “Healthy trees in a densely populated community like Lakewood are very important. They provide us shade to eliminate the heat island effect. They hold rain to help us address Lakewood’s top challenge–stormwater runoff. Everyone can appreciate the aesthetic appeal of a beautiful old tree in one of Lakewood’s parks or the trees we plant in tree lawns to line our streets each spring.”
The City of Lakewood’s Division of Streets and Forestry maintains an inventory of over 13,800 trees located on public property, including those on tree lawns and within parks. The Forestry Unit has planted an average of 422 trees per year and removed an average of 217 trees per year for an average gain of 205 trees annually since 2013 and has spent over $770,000 supporting its tree action plan.
City Arborist Dan Sullivan said, “I have been an arborist for the City of Lakewood going on 31 years. I know the trees in this community well. Sometimes we have to make tough decisions to remove trees but overall, we are fortunate that this administration understands the many advantages of a robust tree canopy and invests to make it so. The locust trees we removed today near Nature’s Oasis along Detroit Avenue have had several complaints to our Forestry Unit and through the Division of Building & Housing.”
Trees are removed when they are diseased, dead, or in decline and/or pose a danger to the public. Mr. Sullivan is a certified arborist and manages a crew of four certified arborists equipped to trim branches, assess trees for disease and safety, remove diseased trees of any size including the stumps, plant new trees, and shred the resulting wastes for recycling into mulch, soil, and other landscape material.
Mr. Sullivan added, “The trees in front of Nature’s Oasis have been topped by utilities over the years, which forces side growth into the buildings. The sidewalks in front of the buildings are extreme tripping hazards and are being replaced as those problems develop. During those sidewalk repairs, seventy-five percent of the roots of these underlying trees will be removed, and therefore the tree will die or fall over. The locust species is too large for this particular site. We will start fresh in the spring and plant trees better suited for that area for people to enjoy for years to come.”
Director of Public Works Roman Ducu said, “Our Division of Streets and Forestry is perfectly suited to handle the challenges of growing trees–some hundreds of feet tall–that are surrounded by people and property all day, every day. Safety is this administration’s number one priority. Trees are an important component of Lakewood’s quality of life. We also want to be sure people can enjoy the sidewalks safely. We also have to balance the depth of our sidewalks and the width of our street lanes with on-street parking included. Unfortunately, that leaves little room for mature trees and we have situations like today’s removal along Detroit Avenue. The City has a responsibility to provide a safe pedestrian thoroughfare. These trees outgrew their small footprint but we will be replacing them with site suitable species as part of our tree action plan.”
The City of Lakewood’s Forestry Unit has the following Operational Principles regarding the City’s urban tree canopy:
- Maintain the health and vigor of all trees in the Lakewood Urban Forest – to capture the long-term ecological, economic and social benefits; and for public safety.
- Always plant the largest suitable tree for the site selected. Large trees live longer and provide greater economic and ecological benefits than small trees. Undersized trees fail to maximize the potential of the site. This failure is lost value for the Lakewood community.
- Achieve a fully stocked Urban Forest to benefit all locations throughout the City of Lakewood and reach the peak Urban Tree Canopy that Lakewood can achieve and sustain.
- Comprehensive tree planting plan for every street identifying primary and secondary species to be used on each street. Species will be selected based on the largest and most urban tolerant species best suited for each site and overall distribution of species to ensure proper diversity.
Mayor George added, “It pains me to see trees taken down in Lakewood when we work so hard and invest so much to grow our tree canopy and increase the number of trees in our community. However, this is the natural progression and I have to rely on our experts, like City Arborist Dan Sullivan, who understand how to balance healthy, growing trees with safety and accessibility for pedestrians. I have supported investment in Lakewood’s tree canopy as a citizen, while I was on City Council, and now as mayor. I would welcome a discussion about the value of our urban tree canopy with anyone. I am disappointed to see social media comments from one of our longest-serving members of City Council who was questioning the City’s longstanding commitment to its urban tree canopy and the expertise of our longtime staff who have devoted their decades-long careers to tree care and the necessary work of maintaining our tree canopy.”
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