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Trees removed in Hagerstown as streetscape project continues

May 31, 2002|by SCOTT BUTKI

scottb@herald-mail.com

Thirty-eight trees in downtown Hagerstown have been removed as part of the second phase of the Maryland Highway Administration's U.S. 40 streetscape improvements, City Engineer Rodney Tissue said Thursday.

Streetscape plans called for removing 13 Bradford pear trees and two cherry trees from West Franklin Street and 23 Bradford pears from West Washington Street, both between Walnut and Potomac streets, Tissue said.

Those trees will be replaced around September with 23 American Hornbeam and 24 Ivory Silk Japanese Tree Lilacs, Tissue said.

"There will be more trees and they will be more attractive than the ones taken down," he said.

A state subcontractor removed the trees last week, he said.

The Hagerstown City Council on Jan. 15 voted to support the state's tree replacement plans.

The city planted Bradford pear trees on Washington, Franklin and Potomac streets, Summit Avenue and at other locations, Tissue said. They were selected because of their spring blooms and fall colors, he said.

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But it turned out the trees attract starlings and blackbirds, and have a branch structure that makes them susceptible to wind and storm damage and drop fruit on sidewalks, he said.

The trees at one time were recommended for urban street areas but no longer are, Tissue said.

The Hagerstown-Washington County Chamber of Commerce sent a letter to the city in November expressing concern about the messy sidewalks and a resulting foul order caused by the trees, he said.

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources earlier found that the downtown trees were not in good condition and were susceptible to storm damage, said Lori Rakowski, spokeswoman for the Maryland Highway Administration.

The replacement trees are more suitable for an urban setting, Rakowski said.

The pear trees would have had to be removed because the streetscape project plans call for replacing portions of the sidewalks along Washington and Franklin streets, Rakowski said.

The council in January also authorized city public works employees to begin work on a plan to replace the Bradford pear trees on city-maintained streets, starting with the first block of North Potomac Street, Tissue said. It has not been decided what those trees will be replaced with, he said.

In addition to the tree removal, the $1.6 million streetscape project will involve installing and replacing storm drains and installing brick crosswalks.

Weekly advisories on the streetscape project are available on the city's Web site at www.hagerstownmd.org.

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