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Crews remove two Highland Avenue trees
Bremerton Public Works crews removed a pair of trees planted along the sidewalk of Highland Avenue last week.
Milenka Hawkins-Bates, a Public Works manager, said that her department can remove trees that are causing major safety hazards, either following a request from a resident, as was the case last week, or at the department’s discretion. The branches of the Highland Avenue trees were interfering with power lines running to a pair of homes and the roots of the trees have buckled sidewalks.
At least one member of the city’s Tree Committee, though, was concerned by the way the removal occurred.
“At a minimum the city needs to communicate its intentions, the reason for its intentions, and what the city is going to do to make up for the loss of tree cover within the city along with the loss of the benefits that are gained from having street trees; prior to having taken action,” wrote John Larson in an email. “The public really does not like to be blindsided. Being on the Tree Committee, I have been asked what I know, sadly I do not have any information that I could share.”
The city’s Tree Committee was formed in July of 2013 following a public backlash when a proposal was floated by Public Works to remove all the trees along Fourth Street between Washington and Pacific avenues. A year prior to that, city street crews cut down 30 globe locust trees along Fourth Street between Naval and Warren without any notification to the public or city administrators. The crews left the bases of the trees in place, but eventually cut down the trunks to street level several weeks later.
The Highland Avenue stumps will also be ground down and crews will pour a section of new sidewalk in front of at least one of the trees, if not both.
Tom Kay, who has owned homes in the neighborhood for a couple of years, says his next door neighbor was the one who called the city about removing a tree. Kay subsequently asked that the city to remove the tree in front of his property as well.
“It’s nice to have trees on the street, but it’s kind of a love-hate relationship,” Kay said. “I mean, look at the condition of the sidewalk.”
Kay was taking advantage of some sunshine on Monday afternoon to make improvements to the home he owns that fronts one of the new tree stumps.
“Our goal is to try and bring it up and make it a nice place for people to live by fixing it up,” he said. “I’m glad to see the city doing that, too. I like that the city is committed to improving things around here.”
Hawkins-Bates said that the city is in the process of looking at some trees near the intersection of Naval Avenue and Gregory Way that a resident has raised concerns about. She says there will also be ongoing discussion about the remaining trees along Highland Avenue and what could or should be done there.
She also said that the tree committee is working on an inventory of street trees to develop a ranking system about which trees should be removed and whether they should be replanted and with what types of trees.