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Removal of Trees Frustrates Covington Neighborhood

The removal of Bradford pear trees from Holman Avenue drew the ire of some members of the Peaselburg Neighborhood Association this week.

At the group's monthly meeting on Monday, City of Covington arborists Jason Roberts and Crystal Courtney explained that the urban forestry board applied for and received a $10,000 grant to remove and replace the pear trees on Holman, a process that is already underway.

Some neighbors were surprised to see the trees being removed.

"I feel personally that this project should have come to the neighborhood before the grant was applied for," said Sue Barnett, a member of the association."If eighty-seven trees are going down in ten blocks and then you are going to replace them with smaller trees, it's going to change the landscape of Holman for a long time."

Some residents asked if the project could be staggered so as not to be such an abrupt change.

Courtney said that the grant from the Commonwealth of Kentucky has to be used by June next year and that the purpose of the Holman project is to create a corridor that will provide an educational service to urban foresters from across the state.

"The trees can be staggered," she said, "but then there would not be a model corridor. The Division of Forestry will use this project in its program."

"Planning something of this magnitude, it's really going to change (the street)," Barnett said. "Some of these trees, there's nothing wrong with them."

But while nothing may appear to be wrong with the trees, Courtney and Roberts explained that the Bradford pear simply doesn't belong in the city. "They are all invasive," Courtney said.

Thirty percent of Covington's "urban canopy" is the Bradford pear, an issue being addressed across the city.

"It wasn't supposed to be able to breed but it has cross-cultivated to become this beast of burden that has (taken over)," Courtney said. 

 photo peaselburgtrees_zpsc03fd421.jpg

At a meeting in September of the Ritte's East Neighborhood Association in Latonia, Roberts told those residents that the Bradford pear would be removed in that immediate area, too.

The trees in question drop berries on the sidewalks that often leave an unpleasant smell, and they also pose a danger, Roberts said.

"I've gotten calls in the middle of the night about Bradford pears falling and splitting," Roberts said. "We have a huge liability for the city to reduce that."

Regardless of the purpose of the tree removal, Peaselburg residents expressed disappointment over the lack of communication with them over the plans to remove the trees on multiple blocks of Holman Avenue south of Martin Luther King Boulevard.

"I know it's hindsight but there are a lot of people who would not have agreed with this," Barnett said.

The grant will pay for the new trees at $80 apiece while the City will pay for the removal of the Bradford pear trees. The new trees will be a variety as illustrated in the above photo.

Story & photos by Michael Monks, editor & publisher of The River City News

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