Last Thursday afternoon, three of our Green Impact Zone staff had the opportunity to walk through the Troostwood neighborhood with public works staff, a city forester and several neighborhood residents.

Using TIGER grant funds, the city’s Public Works Department is beginning to work on replacing sidewalks in Troostwood, which unfortunately will involve removing a few mature trees.

Several weeks ago, when something similar happened in the Manheim neighborhood, a group of protesters — most of whom don’t live in the neighborhood — called TV news crews and staged “performance art” by chaining themselves to trees.

While the Manheim Park Neighborhood Association worked closely with the city to balance the need to replace broken sidewalks with the desire to preserve as many trees as possible — resulting in modifications that saved some 40 trees — their efforts were drowned out by strident voices from those protesters who would not accept the loss of a single tree, even at the expense of residents’ safety.

In the Troostwood neighborhood, concerned residents took a different approach.

Initially, the city had marked only seven or eight trees for removal, but when that number jumped to 15, longtime resident and neighborhood association officer Joe Beckerman wanted to know why. After a series of emails back and forth with city staff, Joe still had questions, so he worked with Sean Demory of the Public Works Department to organize the neighborhood walk. Participants met in the 5000 block of Forest and went tree by tree, discussing the issues involved in sidewalk replacement.

As a result, the project managers and forestry staff concluded that it may be possible to save several of the trees by slightly modifying the sidewalk with a block-out technique and shaving back the tree roots by a modest amount. Specifically, they identified trees at 5009 Forrest, 4956 Forrest and 4937 Forrest as good candidates for this procedure.

A final determination can’t be made until the old sidewalk is removed. If the procedure would result in too much damage to a tree, it will have to be removed. If that happens, city staff will notify the property owner and discuss options.

In an email today, Joe Beckerman said “I want to thank all of you who have followed this process and provided input. I believe in the long run we will have increased the value of our Troostwood neighborhood with new curbs/ sidewalks/fire hydrants and especially the remaining mature trees.”

We want to thank Joe, and applaud Troostwood residents for working with the city and communicating with the Green Impact Zone in a manner that provided for respectful, open dialog.