Tree removal project to replace nearly 60 trees downtown

Tree removal project to replace nearly 60 trees downtown

The city has begun work on a new downtown beautification project that would remove and/or replace several of its downtown trees to give it a fresh new look with new plantings.

The project will appear on the Columbia City Council’s approval agenda this month, where it will be officially approved. This includes $33,258 in funding from Treework Arbor Services.

Tree removal was originally proposed as a strategic headline goal in 2021 and was budgeted at $60,000, Deputy City Manager Thad Jablonski said. The project will also be carried out in several phases, starting with the inner city square.

The city plans to remove and replace nearly 60 trees in its downtown area.  The new trees will be either elm or oak and will be of a size better suited to the area.

“We included the public square, but we also included the four corridors that lead into the downtown square, one block north, south, east, and west,” Jablonski said. “The thing is that if the bids are low enough, maybe we can do the second project or the whole project at once.”

The process involves bringing a grinder to the remaining stumps once the tree is felled. The machine then grinds into the ground to remove the stopper while also making space to plant a new seedling.

Jablonski added that Head of Development Services Paul Keltner, who is a licensed arborist, was a valuable resource in selecting the right types of seedlings, including a specific species of elm and oak to replace the existing ones.

A young sapling is planted near the Visit Columbia Welcome Center.  This is the first of 58 trees to be removed and/or replaced in downtown Columbia.

“Paul chose trees that were the right size, as opposed to what’s there now,” Jablonski said. “And to give you an example of what this project will look like, outside of our Welcome Center you can see a young sapling that was planted just a few months ago. We had a chance to do some experimentation and look at what this process will look like using a similar tool that Treeworks will use.”

City manager Tony Massey said after the article was approved, Columbia’s marketing and tourism director said she would submit the project plans to the Main Street Association and the Downtown Merchants Association later this month.

“This is long overdue and something we really, really need,” Murphy said.