The 35 trees in Azalea Park the city of Brookings deemed hazardous to park visitors were felled Monday, much to the chagrin of scores of citizens who fought to keep them this spring.
City officials said Monday that access to the popular park will be limited for safety reasons until today or Thursday to allow workers to clear the wood and clean up.
The driveway from North Bank Chetco River Road and the lower parking lot on Old County Road across from St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church will be closed, as well as the trail and sidewalk leading into the area of work.
The area adjacent to Kidtown will remain open.
The city council authorized removal of the 35 hazardous trees and trimming of 14 others in November last year. The trees were identified by an arborist as needing “immediate removal,” trimming and monitoring, the email reads.
The city contracted with Western Pacific Tree Service in January to fell the trees, with proceeds from their sale to cover the removal cost. The city will pay $11,435 to prune and remove deadwood from the 14 others.
Controversy started last year after Coos Curry Electric Cooperative felled trees along Lundquist Lane, saying they might interfere with the electrical lines above, particularly during a storm. Those trees were found to have conk and rot, prompting the city to evaluate the health of other trees in the park.
Originally, the city had planned to fell some 60-odd trees, but citizens protested, forcing the city to put the plans on hold one day before work was to begin.
Several public meetings were held throughout the winter and spring. Additional studies were done, of both the trees and the shade they provide to the azaleas below. A ceremony honoring the trees was held in the park this spring. Arguments broke out regarding what the park is supposed to represent to the town. There was muttered threats to recall city councilors.
The issue even divided the council to an extent, with Councilor Dennis Triglia fighting on behalf of the trees and then-Councilor Roger Thompson noting the park is named for its flowers, not the Douglas fir trees.
The majority of trees to come down will be those around the bandshell, which many lamented, saying they provide the natural background and ambience for the park.