Neighbors near South Crestline Street and the Woodfield Place neighborhood were surprised Monday morning when 25 maple trees were being cut down along Crestline Street, between 49th and 53rd avenues.
“I was just shocked,” said Jeanne Corkill, who lives on nearby South Martin Street. “I’d been out of town for a week and then suddenly the trees are gone.” Corkill said she never received any notification of the work or why it was being done, but that signs were put up Tuesday morning after she and her husband Jeff Corkill emailed “everybody” and called City Hall.
“On Monday, no one could tell us what was going on,” Corkill said.
The trees were growing on the east side of Woodfield Place directly underneath overhead power lines and required annual pruning by Avista to prevent fires and broken power lines said Angel Spell, the city’s urban forester.
“The No. 1 complaint I hear from people is, ‘Avista is butchering my trees,’ ” Spell said. “We are working with Avista to identify places where this is a big problem, and to replace the trees with smaller, utility-smart trees that don’t grow as tall.” The maples will be replaced by 30 new trees there by this fall.
Spell said that in situations like these, where trees interfere with power lines, the city has an agreement where Avista removes the trees, the Urban Forestry Department grinds the stumps and the Spokane Conservation District plants new trees.
The trees are being removed now as part of the Crestline Water Main project which includes rehabilitation of the water main, a new sidewalk on Crestline and the construction of a wider planting strip so the new trees can be planted away from the power lines. Crestline will also get stormwater swales.
Corkill said she now understands better the reasons for why the trees are being taken down, but would have liked to know about it ahead of time.
“Also, I’d like to know why Avista can’t put the lines underground in places like this.” Corkill said.
Avista spokeswoman Laurine Jue said that burying power lines is costly and the cost would have to be covered by the neighbors requesting the line burial.
“Underground power lines represent their own challenges when it comes to power outages and construction,” Jue said.