Peace Portal drive to undergo street tree maintenance

The city is beginning a street tree maintenance program for the large maple trees along Peace Portal Drive which includes removing some trees, pruning others and planning for long-term tree management and replacement. The city will also be continuing ongoing efforts to repair and replace sidewalks that are being cracked and lifted by the trees’ spreading roots.

“We want to make sure that we retain the ambiance of the downtown street while addressing public safety and maintenance issues,” said Ravyn Whitewolf, director of Blaine public works.

Initial plans include removing alternating maple trees along each block. One or two blocks will be done each year. This will remove approximately half of the maple trees over the course of the next few years. Removing the trees will allow more exposure for businesses along the street, and will reduce the root damage to sidewalks and curbs as well as allowing the city to replant with a smaller tree species. It will also give city officials time to work with community members and business owners to come up with the best long-term plan.

“We’re concerned that if we don’t take some proactive steps to begin a replacement plan, several years or a decade from now we’ll realize that the trees simply need to come out and we’ll be left with no trees along our main business corridor,” said Michael Jones, Blaine’s community development director.

The golden-red katsura trees on the corners will remain. They are a smaller species that is doing well in the larger planter boxes acting as a visual accent. The city expects them to be viable for many years.

Whitewolf and Jones have gone door-to-door consulting with the Peace Portal Drive business owners to explain the plan and seek input. Overall the response has been very positive, Jones said.

For more information, contact Whitewolf or Jones at 360/332-8311.

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