About a month ago, residents of our quiet neighborhood learned that the city was planning to cut down a large number of trees growing along an iconic street that is a beautiful gateway to the area. The trees overhang the street, forming a canopy that is especially refreshing in the hot summer and spectacularly colorful in the fall.
After residents heard about the plan and complained, the city hastily put together a Zoom presentation (leaving little time for citizen input) justifying their decision to start cutting by the end of this month. The trees, they explained, were dangerous, rat infested and interfered with utility lines and a small irrigation canal along the street. My suspicion is that the utility company’s desire to reduce its maintenance costs had more to do with this than citizen complaints. It was interesting that representatives of El Paso Electric were in attendance during the Zoom meeting, but remained silent during the presentation.
Before the residents were invited to the presentation, we noticed a small number of trees marked with ribbons and later spray-painted with orange dots on the trunks. At first, we assumed these trees would be the ones that would be cut down — again, working from no previous information about the project and hearing rampant rumors about its scope. The dots and ribbons, as finally explained, were showing only the trees that would be saved. By my best estimate, I suspect that about three-quarters of the trees along this stretch of Conway would be felled by axe or chain saw.
The city has now backed off a bit, vowing only to initially cut down the dangerous or dead trees along the route. I’m okay with that — there are some that clearly need to be removed or pruned back. But there are lots that are not marked — meaning they likely will be cut down eventually — that look healthy and valuable to the landscape of this neighborhood. We are now told there will be a first phase and a second phase of tree removal. We will have the opportunity to provide “input” on phase two, as I understand it from city officials.
So here’s my thought. What if neighbors bought a can of spray paint and spritzed an orange dot on the trunk of each and every tree along the street? Now please understand, I am not condoning this activity and do not plan to participate in something like that. However, it makes you wonder what might happen. At the most, it will just serve to confuse and slow down the process. At the least, I hope it would give the city a chance to reflect about the process in which it was not entirely forthcoming about the plan to perform an “agent orange” tree removal in a very lovely neighborhood.
In the meantime, I can tell you where to buy cans of orange spray paint.