The Platteville Common Council voted 4–3 April 9 to go ahead with the proposed North Fourth Street reconstruction project.
The project to narrow and straighten North Fourth Street between Ridge Avenue and Camp Street includes the removal of three elm trees and three maple trees.
The trees, believed to be more than 100 years old, are along the east side of Smith Park across the street from the Family Aquatic Center.
Director of Public Works Howard Crofoot said the trees are scheduled to be removed this week at the discretion of the Street Department, depending on the weather.
At-large Ald. Steve Becker, District 2 Ald. Eileen Nickels and District 3 Ald. Barb Daus voted against the project.
The council majority chose going ahead with the project over two other options — authorizing change orders to try to save the trees, or abandoning the project.
“No matter what we do, there’s a pretty good chance they’re not going to survive,” said Dan Dressens of Delta 3 Engineering. He said the developer of the Oak Haven subdivision built roads around the subdivision’s oak trees, and “50 to 60 percent of those trees have died.”
Crofoot said moving the street along the right-of-way and thus changing the design of the North Fourth–Sylvia Street intersection might make it difficult for “bus traffic and other large vehicles — we can’t move it over so far that we interfere with turning movement of these vehicles.”
The vote came despite letters from students at Platteville Middle School (see page 4A) and speakers asking that the trees be saved.
Chris Mahoney, 1015 N. Fourth St., asked that the council “reexamine and let them see more options on the table” because of “the value of the trees, not just the aesthetic value, but the shade they provide for the parking lot for the pool. … If Platteville is going to be a Tree City, I think it’s fairly hypocritical to cut down large trees.”
“You’re diminishing the character of that area,” said Evan Larson of 1010 Seventh Ave. “It seems like in this community, we’ve had a lot more trees cut down.”
District 4 Ald Ken Kilian’s motion to approve the project included replacing the six trees with 30 new trees throughout the city.