City had to cut down mature trees after recent street work

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Story And Photo By Kathleen Gilluly
Thursday, October 1, 2020
A crew cleans up after trees were removed from a traffic triangle at the intersection of 1st and 4th Streets and Washington Avenue.

A crew cleans up after trees were removed from a traffic triangle at the intersection of 1st and 4th Streets and Washington Avenue.

Laurel prides itself on being a Tree City USA through the Arbor Day Foundation. The tree board maintains a tree map of the city and its members plant a number of trees in city parks every year. Usually, the trees are planted with help from elementary students and much fanfare. That’s one reason it is especially grievous to Public Works Director Kurt Markegard to have to cut down trees.

“There wasn’t an alternative,” he said about the trees that until recently stood in the traffic triangle where 1st Street meets 4th Street off of Washington and Idaho Avenues. “It’s kind of a malfunction-junction there. It was platted in 1907 and was left as is to help with traffic.” The trees bordered the new curb and gutter work just completed and the gradient was too high, leaving the roots exposed, he said.

“We don’t like cutting down trees, but they would have died,” Markegard noted. “We also had to cut them down from the area across the street on 1st Street.” That property, while not officially a park, has been used by neighborhood children as a playground in recent years. “That is two lots owned by the city, but we don’t plan to develop it.” The lots are adjacent to a home and have a sidewalk running through the center, perfect for youngsters on scooters and bikes. Only the trees on the south side of those lots were removed.

All the trees on the traffic triangle had to come down, filling at least one semi truck with the logs.

“We’ve been watering and mowing that triangle for years and it really isn’t used for anything other than traffic flow,” Markegard said. “So we’ll do some nice xeriscaping and put some native plants and big rocks in there.”

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