Streets to be leafy again

LUCY TOWNEND
Last updated 12:00 24/07/2013

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Plans for replanting after nearly 90 plane trees were chopped down in four Dannevirke streets are taking root.

The Tararua District Council is making plans for the replacement of dozens of diseased trees pulled down along Dannevirke's Victoria Ave, King, Cole and Stairs streets in June.

The tree felling was a hot topic in the Tararua town, with community petitions presented to the council and robust debate in chambers.

The council, on the Dannevirke Community Board's recommendation, agreed to the felling after the trees' annual maintenance fee for pruning and pollarding rose from $3475 in 2011 to $9500 this year.

An arborist's assessment showed the 87 London plane trees were diseased, dying and dangerous, with rot showing at the crowns of the trees, hollow trunks, and roots cracking kerbs and raising footpaths.

Council assets group manager Kathy Dever-Tod said that when the streets were first landscaped they were narrow tree-lined avenues, but over the years, with widening and developments, many of the streets were left with trees close to the middle of the road, causing concern.

"There were some mixed responses from the community, some were sad to see them go, but others have said they were a hazard."

The plan now was to look at how to recreate the ambience of the streets and surrounding neighbourhoods while ensuring road safety and solid infrastructure systems were maintained, Mrs Dever-Tod said.

"We're working to make sure whatever we do we're doing it for a long-term decision so we don't have to come back in a few years."

Residents' views could influence planting plans, with community consultation taking place in the next few months, she said. It had been suggested that smaller trees, such as ash or kowhai, could replace the planes.

It is a process familiar to Mrs Dever-Tod - who was the Palmerston North City Council's horticultural supervisor in the 1990s - and was involved with the move to make Fitzherbert Ave a four-lane street. Fourteen plane trees were cut down, causing a group to stage an 82-day occupation in a tree marked for removal.

However, Tararua residents had been much more understanding of the need for the felling. "It is deja vu in some senses . . . one of the things I did learn from Palmerston North is to think about what this is going to look like in the future."

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- Manawatu Standard

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