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Why were 12 trees cut down on Executive Drive?

Stacey Hartley • Jul 20, 2019 at 10:00 PM

The Norwalk Tree Board intends to plant seven trees in October to replace the 12 that were removed earlier this summer.

There’s a clearer view along Executive Drive, thanks to some unruly tree roots.

Following recent efforts by the board and city zoning department to replace the quality of the sidewalks and increase visibility when entering and leaving area parking lots, a line of trees was removed, leaving several straw-covered circles where they once stood. 

Another change — more level, resurfaced sidewalks.

Those missing Executive Drive’s picturesque tree line can take heart that the board intends to plant several different trees in October.

The new roots “grow down, instead of flare out. That’s the reason the trees needed to be cut,” board member Stewart Downey said. 

“What we’re looking to plant should grow to about 25 to 30 feet tall. And because there isn’t too much space for them here, that could limit the growth.” 

“November is usually the best time to plant trees,” said fellow board member Bernie Car, a certified arborist and the owner of Organic Air Tree and Shrub Care. “But with the weather, it might be best to shoot for October.”

The board also is considering working with local nurseries to find the best plants available.

Leading up to the sidewalk’s construction was an outpouring of concern from area businesses and residents.  

Norwalk City Councilman Steve Schumm began receiving phone calls at his home from members of the community.

“There were a lot of constituents, so I tried to listen to what they had to say and (commit to) following up with them,” he said.

Despite not being a member of the board and zoning department, Schumm had been monitoring the worsening condition of the sidewalks for seven years.

“I brought the matter up with the council two or three times,” he said. “I had the previous county engineer come out and mark areas on the sidewalk to avoid. … (The sidewalk) was so uneven and such a mess.” 

Schumm also shared that the majority of those concerns were coming from older members of the community who regularly walked and biked on Executive Drive or Benedict Avenue. He also said there were legitimate concerns with the lack of visibility when entering and exiting the drive. 

“There were some gripes and complaints about the trees being gone,” said David Deehr, president of the congregation at St. Peter Evangelical Lutheran Church.

“It was a well established tree line, but unfortunately it was messing up the concrete,” he said.

While Deehr offered that church administrators had “absolutely nothing to do with removing the trees,” the church still fielded opinions from parishioners and passersby. 

“We had a sign (for an event) out by the sidewalk, so some people were thinking we were involved with the work being done, but it was unrelated — and the process to have the sign had gone to zoning from the first of January,” he explained.

The next step for community members wanting to see new trees planted is to join efforts to raise $2,000 for the project. Downey, a salesman at Maple City Ice Co., and his wife Katherine donated $500 toward it.

“We’re just looking for that $1,500 more to complete this,” Downey said, referring to the tree board and city.

To report any overgrown or encroaching trees, citizens can submit a report to the tree board action line or to offer donations for the project, by contacting the board through city hall, by calling 419-668-6700. 

St. Peter Evangelical Lutheran Church is located at 243 Benedict Ave.

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