[UPDATE: Recent articles about the Park Street Tree Removal are listed below.
Oct. 21: ]
A streetscape improvement project is in the works on Park Street.
The work is being done primarily between Central and San Jose avenues, and the new streetscape will include new lights, parking kiosks (instead of meters), and bike racks — as well as new trees.
But the mood was somber on Park Street Thursday as trees between Central and Encinal avenues were cut down and ground up by workers.
"Do you know why they are cutting down all these trees?" wondered Maria Weathersbee, 64, who was out doing errands. "It's going to be too hot! We need all the trees we can get! You can't replace a tree."
"Because every town in America wants to have a treeless main street," remarked another.
Park Street Business Association head Robb Ratto says the trees are coming down to allow space for new, better lighting, and also because the existing trees are not in good health.
"A lot of those trees are damaged or gnarled and probably needed to be replaced many years ago," Ratto said. "And, in the case of the Starbucks tree, it is way out of proportion with the street."
The new lights will better illuminate the street and sidewalks, Ratto said.
"They’re getting the new double-headed lights," Ratto said. The lights will be the same as those installed on the blocks to the north of Central Avenue a few years ago. "As anyone can see those lights are much closer together than the old ones — so they can not only light up the street but also light up the sidewalk for pedestrians," Ratto said.
"Am I sad that some of the mature trees are coming down? Yes," said Nick Petrulakis, the manager of Books Inc. "But I am hopeful that the street will look better."
"My fear," said Petrulakis, "is that these new trees will not receive the care they need — similar to the trees that were planted on the other side of Central a few years ago. Many of them are showing signs of neglect."
Ratto did not know what type of trees the city would be putting in, and calls to Alameda's Department of Public Works were not returned immediately Thursday afternoon, but merchants on the street said they were expecting more ginkgos.
Construction will come in a number of phases, according to an information sheet from the city, and it's scheduled to be completed by the end of February.
"All the businesses are going to be open during construction," Ratto said. "So come on down to Park Street and to do your shopping."
A follow up to this story: . The city's master tree plan and also the city's press release about the project are attached to this article to the right. Click on the icons under the pictures to read them. All stories related to the tree removal are here.