Local Neighborhood Fights City\'s Tree Removal Plan

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COLUMBIA - The city marked six trees on Westwood Avenue to be cut down on Monday. However, residents have petitioned against the removal, causing the city to put it on hold. 

Matthew McGrath has lived on Westwood street for ten years. 

"I'm very much opposed to the way the city is going about this whole thing," McGrath said. "We saw the "x"s on Friday night and then we were never told about it at all." 

McGrath and his wife do not want the city to remove the trees at all. They've led the petition to put a stop to the plan, at least until they get some answers. 

"I think a lot of residents would like to hear exactly why the trees have to come down all the years I've been here I don't recall seeing people taking care of the trees from the city."

City Council Member Daryl Dudley represents this part of town said the city plans to hold a public meeting, but the date has not been set. Dudley said the city plans to do more than simply remove the trees.

"The city wants to do the streets, the curbs, and the sidewalks." Dudley said, "Once you get in there to work on things, it's easier to work on all of them at once than it is to come back and do one at a time."

Dudley said the city is concerned about the liability the hazardous sidewalks place on residents. 

"If someone should get hurt on that, you as the homeowner are responsible for anyone getting hurt in front of that and I've heard that from a couple of insurance agents today," Dudley said.

Westwood Avenue resident Steve Scott agrees. He wants the city to remove the trees because the roots of the Sugar Bum trees are making the sidewalks dangerous for pedestrians. 

"They have a very shallow root system and they are notorious for heaving concrete and in front of my house they have heaved the sidewalk to some extend and it's going to get worse," Scott said. 

Scott said he didn't know other residents were protesting the removal until the city stopped working on Monday. 

"At first I was mystified then I heard that there was this protest and I was still mystified because none of the people involved in the protest had seen fit to talk with me and find out my concerns and my plans. If they had, they would have found out that I was partly trying to protect not only my own property but other trees in my front yard from being overshadowed and that I did intend to replace the trees with a more suitable species."