Removal of Cortez Trees Causes Backlash

Apr 3, 2018

The recent removal of a number of shade trees from Cortez’s Main Street has sparked a furor on social media. But City Manager Shane Hale tells KSJD the city had little choice because the trees were causing problems.

He says they were planted over two decades ago, with a plan for them to be dug up after three or four years and transplanted to the parks. That didn’t happen, and over time, roots began causing the sidewalks to buckle. The city put paving stones around the trunks but the stones buckled as well. The roots have even moved curbs and gutters. Hale says people have tripped and fallen on the humps in the pavement.

He said, “If you know about a hazardous condition and don’t deal with it, that is a liability issue.” Hale says Cortez is a Tree City USA and plants about 50 trees annually so the decision to chop these down was difficult. They will be replaced with smaller species that won’t cause the same infrastructure problems. Hale says he now wishes he had held a public meeting to inform residents about the removal, but similar efforts in the past hadn’t created much controversy. He added that the reason the trees were cut down on a Sunday was not to avoid notice, but to cause as little disruption as possible to traffic and business.