The project went a step further at the city council’s April 9 meeting. The council unanimously agreed to remove the four remaining trees that exist along the street.
“Roots from the trees in certain areas of the sidewalk have been becoming hazardous over time, and we want to do what we can to make the sidewalks as safe as they can be,” said city manager Dan Wright.
On Monday, April 2, the city’s public works department began working on the problem areas of the sidewalks along Nashville Street.
“We are very proud of the look of our main street and, with that in mind, have been anxiously waiting for several years for the Georgia Department of Transportation to begin work that will add many improvements to that area,” said Mike Cagle, city public works director. “Unfortunately, while waiting on those anticipated improvements ex-pected in 2013, it was brought to our attention that the condition of the sidewalks in the area of our trees had unsafe and posed potential hazards to pedestrians.”
Two of the trees were successfully removed recently, with the sidewalk refinished in front of the old Ringgold Price Drugs.
“As city employees dug, we found some roots three times the size of an arm raising the ground level, and thus pushing up numerous sections of the sidewalk,” Cagle said. “So we removed the trees in order to prep the area to make repairs.”
The ginkgo trees that were removed will be replaced with smaller trees that will not pose a similar problem, ac-cording to city parks and recreation director Stephen Middlebrooks.
“We will be replacing the trees removed with European hornbeam trees that are 8 to 12 feet tall,” he said. “The hornbeam will have a yellow-brown fall color, and will add to the leaf canopy while having less impact on the safety of our residents through damaging city sidewalks. The city of Dalton uses hornbeam in many of its sidewalk loca-tions.”
Following the recent effort to get the project started, concerned citizens and business owners showed up at City Hall April 9 to make sure the project wouldn’t stop with the removal of just two trees.
“You’ve taken out a couple of the trees already, but we want to know if you’re going to remove the rest of them right there in front of us,” said Patrick Henry, owner of Caffeine Addicts. “My wife Jan has fallen on that sidewalk because of the damage these trees have caused. She’s skinned both knees, both hands. … Lets not quit in the middle of the game. Finish the job.”
The council concurred with Henry’s opinion, and the city will now remove the remaining trees along the strip in front of Caffeine Addicts, as well as ginkgo trees located near Ringgold Wedding Chapel.
“Nobody hates to cut down a tree more than I do, but this is something that has to be done for the sake of safety, our citizens, and our business owners,” said councilman Terry Crawford.