Appropriate tree selection and placement in urban settings adds a level of softness and humanity to the concrete jungle it might not otherwise have. From my perspective, trees located in a downtown city setting are a living reminder of the changing seasons and the passage of time. Trees are a nice visual feature that draw the eye and provide enjoyment.
Currently there seems to be some ongoing discussions and separation in opinions regarding the trees that now line Fourth Street between Washington and Pacific. Some of the common complaints associated with these particular trees include the fact that they are ugly or they appear to make the street seem dark, forbidding and inaccessible. They are also messy, causing structural issues with the sidewalk and make it harder for the businesses located there to be seen by potential patrons.
I enjoy having trees downtown. That does not mean the trees involved need to remain completely as is. If some of them are creating problems because of the mess associated with their type or they are causing noticeable damage to the surrounding street and or sidewalk because of root systems, then possible removal and replacement should be considered.
It is important to note that the existing Bremerton Municipal Code addresses municipal trees. It is BMC 13.10. In particular Section 13.10.080 (c) Removal:
(1) All municipal trees and shrubs which have fallen or been authorized for removal shall be completely removed from the growing site and disposed of in an authorized manner. The stump shall be ground out to a depth suitable for future planting of trees or turf.
(2) When municipal trees or shrubs are removed because of inappropriate location, a more appropriate site for replacement will be selected, when possible, in as close a proximity as spacing permits. Trees removed due to health, age, size for its location, or undesirable species type shall be replaced, when appropriate/available, with a suitable tree or shrub which will not produce the same problem in accordance with this section.
(3) No municipal tree or shrub shall be removed from any public area for the sole purpose of providing a view for any private property or individual.
It is my hope that some upcoming scheduled discussions, as well as an open community dialogue on this issue, will result in a compromised set of solutions that meet the requirements of the existing city code and will keep a few of the existing trees that are not causing problems. Going forward, any replacement solutions should be mindful of both long term upkeep and overall cost to the taxpayers to correct what is a mostly aesthetic problem or matter of opinion.
Proper planting practices will also need to be applied so that this situation does not happen again.