Historic lumberjack, brand new stump.
  • Sean Breslin
  • Historic lumberjack, brand new stump.

An upset reader named Nick called in yesterday from the streets of Kenton, where he watched city-contracted lumberjacks cut down trees near the neighborhood's statue of Paul Bunyan. "They're littering the streets with huge branches!" he cried.

Turns out the city is axing 21 trees from the neighborhood as part of the redevelopment of Kenton's main street, North Denver. The old, leafy trees will be replaced with 49 new ones that are of more "business friendly" varieties.

The citizen advisory committee to the Portland Development Commission's Downtown Kenton Redevelopment Project recommended that the city widen the sidewalks along N Denver from 10 feet wide to 15 feet wide to make the area for pedestrian friendly. But, says Portland Transportation staffer Kathryn Levine, widening the sidewalk would have meant the current trees would be in the middle of the pedestrian path. The group okayed cutting down and replacing the 21 trees. "I don't know of any projects that have moved trees of that size," says Levine.

According to the streetscape committee's report, "In recent years, there have been persistent complaints from business and property owners about the current street trees in Downtown Kenton. These trees are red maples, dense columnar trees that, in some cases, block signage and/or historic facades. While many in the district appreciate the maples’ striking Fall color, the broad leaves (which tend to drop ‘all at once’ within a fairly tight time period) cause some backup of the storm sewer."

Levine says that although she has had one complaint about the city cutting down the trees, "Within the advisory committee there was agreement to move forward with the project and that meant removing the trees."

The new trees, Honey Locust and Redwood Ash, meet criteria for trees that "meet the needs of the district," including "avoiding excessive litter" and having "‘business-friendly’ airy leaf/branch patterns".