Letters to the editor

Tree-free boulevards? Not for me!
To the editor:
Some of West St. Paul’s public works staff are proposing that our City Council adopt changes to the boulevard-tree ordinance that would lead to there being no trees on those boulevards. Some of these changes have already been implemented.
If passed, the new ordinance would permanently put into effect the city’s current practice of not planting trees in that strip of turf between the sidewalk and the street. We also would not be allowed to do so, even at our own expense. Any such trees would be declared “public nuisances” and be removed by the city and the expenses charged to the adjacent property owner (whether or not such was the planter).
Also any existing trees in the boulevards, regardless of health or height, could be removed, at no expense to the adjacent property owner, just on that person’s say-so. So all of us who have lived on a street for decades could lose the largest, most beautiful tree on the block because one new resident doesn’t like it. But we would all have to pay for its destruction.
Although planting and pruning street trees does cost some money in the short run, their benefits are substantial in the long run. They cool the pavements we walk and drive on. They intercept and absorb the rain and snowmelt that runs into our storm sewers. They quiet our neighborhoods and attract songbirds. They beautify our surroundings and raise our property values.
The proposed changes were to be read at the Dec. 11 Council Meeting, but that has been put off until the Jan. 8 one. To see the proposal, go to our city’s excellent website, click on Council Agenda/minutes, scroll down to and click on the Dec. 11 agenda, then go to the second page and under “Public Works,” click on the link.
Please let your council member know how you feel about your urban forest. Watch the meeting that night at 7 p.m., or the reruns the following Thursday at 1 and 7 p.m. — all on Channel 18 (TST). Or come to the meeting. It’s better than TV!
John Masengarb
West St. Paul

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