MONONGAHELA – Eighteen trees that were removed by city workers last month from Monongahela’s downtown streetscape will be replaced on the heels of many complaints from business owners and residents.
The city will meet with its tree committee and a local volunteer revitalization group to come up with the best approach to planting new trees along Main Street, Monongahela Councilman Ken Kulak said Friday.
“We need to plan for this, come up with a smart approach to where the trees will go in,” Kulak said.
Complaints began pouring into City Hall almost immediately after the street department chopped down the trees, thinking they were doing a favor for business owners who wanted them removed, he said.
“They are a good street department,” Kulak said.
It all started, said the councilman, when a sizeable branch broke off one the trees, prompting a businessman to contact the street crew to take care of the problem. The tree appeared, as did others, as if it was becoming vulnerable to disease. Once people noticed the tree cutting, other business owners asked to have more trees removed.
But, he said, the city ordered the street department to stop cutting down trees once people began to complain. No one was disciplined, he added.
“People are furious,” said Barb Mayfield, owner of a downtown lunch counter.
“They beautified Monongahela,” Mayfield, owner of Bees Nest Cafe at Third an West Main streets, said of the trees.
The flowering Cleveland pear trees were planted in the 1980s through federal revitalization grants managed by the Redevelopment Authority of Washington County, which also has fielded some complaints about their removal, said Rob Phillips, a community development manager at the authority.
Monongahela Mayor Bob Kepics said some of the tree roots were upheaving sidewalks or getting into sewer lines. Some people, Kepics said, were complaining about fallen leaves becoming slippery on the sidewalks.
“We are going to replace them,” Kepics said.
The city has yet to estimate a cost to replant the trees.
James Bindi, a member of the city’s tree committee, said he was glad to hear the trees will be replaced.
“They didn’t consult with us. They just chopped them down,” Bindi said. “It was upsetting.”