Dear Members of our Neighborhood and Business Community,
You may have heard about or been approached regarding an online petition criticizing the newly planted trees along Central Avenue, the City’s Central Avenue Streetscape project, and our organization, the Central Avenue SID. First and foremost, the CASID takes pride in the streetscape project including its tree canopy. The Central Avenue Streetscape Roadway Improvement has been a large undertaking bringing much-needed safety improvement. The online petition was initiated by an overzealous tree enthusiast who is primarily concerned about the aesthetics of the tree line at the expense of visitors, shoppers, workers, taxpayers, and businesses who operate in the district daily.
The petition is spreading misguided information and we urge you not to be persuaded by the propaganda. Those driving the petition are certainly entitled to express an opinion on the Central Avenue Streetscape project. However, they should respect the views and input from the stakeholders within the district who must live, work, and manage the new streetscape moving forward. The site plans currently address the best interest and safety of all users and has the support of our main street community.
It should also be noted that the petition organizer is also lobbying to leave the tree beds open. The CASID opposes open tree pits for the safety of our pedestrian heavy thoroughfare and insists tree roots be protected from the various factors in the district that can cause harm. Leaving tree beds uncovered is both a liability to the business and irresponsible knowing the City faced a series of Central Avenue trip-and-fall lawsuits over the last several years.
The petition makes the following assertions:
1. Petition Claim – Ginkgo Trees do not provide enough shade.
FACT: Ginkgo Trees are considered shade trees by every standard. To say they will not provide sufficient shade is disingenuous. The petition states the ecological benefits of more shade but fails to acknowledge that Central Avenue is already a well-shaded area due in large part to its large tree population and surrounding 3 to 5-story buildings. Central Avenue sidewalks are constantly in the shadow of buildings and only receive sunlight for about 4 hours per day.
2. Petition Claim – Ginkgo Trees are slow-growing.
FACT: Ginkgo Trees grow at a rate of 13 to 24 inches per year and that is considered a medium rate of growth. A faster-growing tree will require much more maintenance in terms of regularly trimming branches back from buildings and blocking streetlights. Faster growing trees also tend to outgrow their tree bed leading to broken and uneven sidewalks.
3. Petition Claim – Ginkgo Trees should be replaced with Honey Locusts Trees.
FACT: Honey Locus Trees are fast-growing trees. There are many of these in the neighborhood and almost all have damaged the surrounding sidewalk and have overgrown branches. Honey Locus Trees are well known for their big seed pods that litter sidewalks every year between September and November and require constant cleaning and maintenance.
4. Petition Claim – Central Avenue should be lined with big leafy trees.
FACT: Healthy trees with broad leafy crowns require a root system that is almost as wide. The roots of these trees will break the surrounding sidewalk as all of our tree beds are only 5 x 5 ft. The result will be uneven sidewalks compromising pedestrian safety and that cannot be the legacy of this $5 million project. Trees with big crowns also compromise lighting in our urban area as branches block the new lights if not properly pruned each year.
5. Petition Claim – Existing Ginkgo trees on Central Avenue are in severe health decline and a handful are dead.
FACT. The Ginkgo tree species is millions of years old and one of the most resilient trees in the world. The rough wear and tear of our busy urban commercial corridor place a lot of stress on its trees. If Ginkgoes can’t thrive on our main thoroughfare, please be assured other tree species will fare worse. Dead trees have been replaced and we continue to consult with City experts on the overall health of our trees. In the meantime, there are many factors here that affect tree health including garbage contaminants (please don’t place trash on tree beds), compact soil due to heavy pedestrian foot traffic, damage to trees and roots each time a garbage truck or heavy delivery truck jumps the curb, salted sidewalks in the winter, and chained bikes to name a few.
We thank you for your patience and understanding as the City pushes the project into completion
President Sanford Fishman and the Board of Trustees