Crisp: City at fault in removal of 15th Street tree
October 15. 2013 11:13AM
City officials agreed to replace a tree along 15th Street after a disgruntled resident questioned why it was cut down to begin with.
Jim Schildhauer lives at 409 east 15th Street and was among dozens of property owners along that road who saw trees in and around their homes removed ahead of this summer’s construction project. Many of the 50 trees that got the ax were removed to make room for new sidewalks, including an Ash tree that straddled Schildhauer’s property and the city-owned boulevard.
Schildhauer said City Hall denied a request to save the tree by routing the sidewalk around it. City administration said ADA regulations prevented bending the sidewalk, he said.
Although his frustration began then, he said it was until he came home from work earlier this fall and noticed a bend in the sidewalk – in front of one of his neighbor’s homes – that he decided to bring the matter before the city council.
“It’s one thing if you have your right of way … but one block down they go around a tree. You said we can’t do it that way and yet you do it for one guy,” he said to the council last week.
The tree that was saved and built around was entirely on private property. However, it’s root-base required the sidewalk route be altered and elevated.
Mark Crisp said Schildhauer is right to be upset knowing that an exception was made for his neighbor but not him.
“I really think we made a mistake; and I’ll say ‘we’ because I’m part of the council now, too,” he said. “We elevated and went around (the other tree) because of the root base.”
City government ought to be consistent in it’s decision making, Crisp said, and exceptions have been made in the past. Schildhauer should have been given the same courtesy, he said.
“If you go up Iowa (Avenue) today, there is a kink in the sidewalk … for a reason. (The homeowner) didn’t want to lose her tree. We went around her tree,” he said. “That tree is gone. There’s still a kink in the sidewalk. I call that a part of history.”
The council approved planting a tree with a 7-inch base in Schildhauer’s yard.
“If you get much bigger than that, the tree spading company isn’t going to guarantee that it lives,” he Crisp said.