Following a delay to allow more public input, the city has removed the older Maple tree in front of Common Grounds Cupcakes.
The tree was important to the owner of Common Grounds, who told Renton Reporter it was part of the reason they put their business there over a decade ago. But the tree would have been badly damaged during the Wells and Williams two-way street conversion project, the city says, and relocating older trees is costly.
The city did pause removal of the tree for several weeks after receiving community feedback. Common Grounds owners and staff said they weren’t aware the project would involve the removal of the tree, and stopped contractors moments before removing it on June 15. Drawings of the finished intersection, shown during open houses for the Wells and Williams project, include a tree in the location of the old Maple. Project Manager Keith Woolley, in an email July 6, stated that the city could have been clearer about which trees would be replaced.
In an emailed response, Woolley said after working with Renton’s certified arborist, it was determined the tree needed to be removed for the following reasons:
- The tree was unlikely to survive new utility construction, and the new stormwater drain would sever half the tree’s roots, also creating a safety hazard.
- Alternative utility installations methods would likely still damage the tree, and there’s little room to put utilities elsewhere, since Third Avenue South also holds two large Seattle water pipelines.
- Transplanting a tree of this age has a low success rate and would be very expensive.
- The tree likely only had five more years of life where it could be healthy and safe in the urban tree environment.
The city was able to identify that the tree was planted in 1972. It offered shade and natural beauty to downtown for nearly 50 years. Now, the city will be planting Spring Flurry Serviceberry and Scarlett Sentinel Maple varieties in its place, which will mature within five years. In total in this project, the city will remove 12 trees and intends to plant 22 new ones.
See the previous article on the tree removal here.