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The case of the missing trees

Jul 25, 2017 03:20PM ● Published by Ruth Hendricks

Midvale city cut down a tree near a shed that was damaged by a falling branch. (Ruth Hendricks/City Journals)

What do you do when the city cuts down some trees that provide welcome shade? Marlynne Pike owns a duplex west of Union Park at 7360 S 700 E. Pike lodged a complaint that in May the city had cut down some large trees adjacent to the park and next to the duplex. A dirt path runs along an old canal outside the western edge of the park, and is sandwiched between homes on the other side.

“The old shade trees had a massive base and provided valuable shade to the duplex, which saves on electricity costs,” Pike said. She also noted the benefit to the air from trees in general.

Pike explained that during a windstorm, a branch from one of those trees landed on the shed of a neighboring home. Pike claimed that the city came and removed a number of trees along the waterway because they didn’t have the money to maintain them.

According to Pike, both residents of her duplex were upset. One contacted the mayor’s office and said she was told that these were junk trees, and the city could do what they wanted. “For living in Utah, we need to keep all the huge shade trees,” said Pike.  She believes that the city should at least replant them. Pike also believed that the city was planning to take out all the trees along this waterway because they don’t have the money to maintain them.

Larry Wright, Midvale public works director, was contacted by City Jouranls to investigate this mystery. Wright confirmed that two trees were cut down after a section of a tree fell and damaged the roof of a shed. He confirmed that the trees were “junk trees” that had grown on their own. “The trees were examined and both had large splits at the bottom and were determined to be unsafe,” said Wright.

Stephen Black, with the public works department, said that the city may remove more trees in the future because of concern about additional safety issues. Trees have been trimmed in the past, but some have grown out of control and staff worries there could be more property damage.

About the possibility of replanting, Wright said that there were no immediate plans. There has been some talk in the past about turning that land over to the county. “The ground is unusable, it’s a small strip of property along an old canal,” said Wright. Nothing has been decided about what will be done with the land.

While residents may hate to lose large trees and the benefit of their shade, it appears that the concern for safety was the priority for the city staff.
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