Dozens of healthy trees bought with tax payer money are being chopped down in Mountlake Terrace

by: Lee Stoll Updated:

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MOUNTLAKE TERRACE, Wash. —

The city says they're a safety hazard, but some neighbors, like Louis Reinhardt, say they never should have been planted in the first place.

"The neighbors all enjoy them especially in the spring and summer."  He said.

Reinhardt was living along 48th St W when the city planted the maples about 30 years ago.  Now, he’s collecting the trunks for firewood.

 "We had no say, but we were taxed.  Property taxes are going up every year and then they come and they cut them down without any public hearing."  He said.

 The city says the large maples are causing problems over and under the road.  Roots are threatening an underground natural gas line and are pushing up the sidewalk -- making it difficult and dangerous for people to walk.

 When asked, "Is it a waste of money to rip them out?”

 Community Relations director Virginia Olsen answered, "Those trees lasted over years. It's a safety issue.  We have to put our citizen's safety first."

 The city will chop down 37 trees.  Reinhardt says they were a poor choice for the busy street.

 "Anyone could see that they would have to be cut in 20-25 years," he said.

 The city will use money from the Street Operating Budget to buy smaller trees costing $150 apiece -- more than $5,500 in all.

 "The neighbors will have nice street trees and new walkways and it will be safe and enjoyable for everybody," said Olsen.