DOVER — City Council has paused plans to remove 75 mature trees on North Bradford Street in favor of giving property owners whose houses may be affected the opportunity to weigh in.
The city’s Department of Public Works will host a meeting at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Dover Public Library. Topics of discussion will include curb, sidewalk and pavement replacement, as well as tree and construction alternatives, a meeting notice read.
As part of the city’s 2020 Streets and Alleys program, 75 trees were slated for removal from North Bradford Street, due to their roots damaging the road and sidewalks. In some areas, root growth has caused the sidewalks to become uneven and fall out of compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act.
Sharon Duca, director of public works, said in a June 29 City Council meeting that she has met with representatives from the state Forest Service to review the city’s options. She said the Forest Service will be completing an evaluation of the trees, “taking into account some alternative construction methodologies that were not reviewed during previous evaluations.”
Ms. Duca suggested that the city wait until after the evaluations and the Wednesday meeting before determining a different course of action than removing all 75 trees.
Councilwoman Tricia Arndt, who represents the district where the trees are located, said she was “relieved” the project has evolved from the initial proposal of removing the trees.
Noting that the meeting was planned quickly and during a holiday week, Councilwoman Arndt asked about outreach efforts for the meeting and how many feedback opportunities will be provided for those who might not be able to attend.
Ms. Duca said staff have gone door-to-door on North Bradford Street with flyers about the meeting. She said the event also is being advertised on the city’s social media platforms and website.
She added that the city may forgo a one-size-fits-all solution for North Bradford Street in favor of looking at each tree individually.
“This meeting will be a preliminary meeting basically to go over what we’re looking at, the data, as well as get some information and have voices heard from the public as to what they’re looking for,” Ms. Duca said. “If they have any ideas, that’s certainly welcome. Then, we’d be able to move on working with them in order to come up with a more detailed plan, so that we can finalize the design aspects going forward.”
Kesha Braunskill, urban and community forestry coordinator for the Delaware Forest Service, said staff will need about a week to complete evaluations and make recommendations based on each tree.
“We’re looking at things like the health of the tree — disease, canopy health, decay — and then making recommendations for the protection of those trees given this new lens that we’re looking at and what the potential could be for modifying the sidewalks and making them ADA-compliant,” Ms. Braunskill said.
Councilman Gerald Rocha asked if it might be “absolutely necessary” to remove certain trees.
Ms. Braunskill said that, in some cases, tree removal is unavoidable.
“We are going to be making some recommendations to remove trees. There’s no doubt about that,” she said. “Just doing a windshield survey last week of some of those trees that are on Bradford — they’re in decline, which is totally normal for older trees that are in an urban environment.”
She said she’d like to see as many trees preserved as the city is able to do, noting the benefits of trees, like heat reduction and increased property values.
“To have Dover maintain, as well as increase, the tree canopy is huge. It’s important,” Ms. Braunskill said. “I’m sure you know, there’s many benefits of trees.”
For more information about this week’s meeting, call the Department of Public Works at 736-7025.