Traverse City Record-Eagle

June 21, 2013

City to cut down ancient oak for parking space

Traverse City Record-Eagle

---- — TRAVERSE CITY — An oak tree that has offered shade for close to a century on Cass Street will fall victim to new development and additional parking spaces -- a half-block from a city parking deck.

Socks Construction on Saturday will drop the city-owned tree that stands between the street and sidewalk as part of its redevelopment of a site on the northwest corner of Cass and Eighth streets. City Commissioner Jeanine Easterday initially sought a delay to evaluate other options to save the tree, but now supports city staffers’ decision to cut the oak.

“It makes me sad, but if I didn’t trust the city staff I wouldn’t be on the city commission,” Easterday said.

City zoning requires that the new three-story building sit three feet from the sidewalk. City officials said the building’s foundation would damage the tree’s roots and kill the large canopy that hangs over the street. The canopy over the sidewalk would have to be cut back to accommodate the building.

Tim Lodge, the city engineer who issued the removal permit, said officials hoped to save the tree, but a forester from the city’s department of public services determined it wouldn’t survive. Lodge declined to name the forester.

“That’s because we don’t have a city forester; he retired and we never replaced him,” Easterday said.

Lauren Vaughn, city parks and recreation director, said his office evaluated the tree’s survival prospects.

“We hate to see that tree go, but where that building is going to go you would have to cut off a third of the canopy and it would probably lose half the canopy and not survive,” Vaughn said.

The city will replace the tree with parking spaces by widening Cass Street by about seven feet to allow for on-street parking.