Council to seek path around trees’ removal

Published 7:54 pm Tuesday, June 2, 2009

A resident of one of the last remaining dirt streets in Bainbridge is asking the city’s government to spare a large oak tree which could be cut down as part of an infrastructure improvement project.

Debra Freeman, who addressed the Bainbridge City Council on Tuesday evening, said she is a 30-year resident of Williams Street—located southeast of Butler Ferry Road in West Bainbridge. She said she’s raised her children and hosted her grandchildren at her home and believes the tall oak tree in front of her home is a landmark in her neighborhood.

The problem is that when city officials began preparing to pave Williams Street and make improvements to water and sewer lines, they found the path the road takes does not match the way the road appears on engineering surveys and recorded plat maps, according to City Engineer Jim York. The tree Freeman wants to save and another large oak are actually located on street right-of-way according to the plat maps, York said. They were probably there when the subdivision was created in 1926, so it seems natural that the path motorists took to avoid them shifted, he said.

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Freeman also questioned whether the city’s plans to get 16 temporary construction easements— predominantly from the side of the street that more people live on, according to her—is fair or not. Part of the property on the other side of the street, including part of the roadway, belongs to McKenzie Tank Lines, according to City Manager Chris Hobby.

According to Hobby, the city has three options: go ahead with the improvements as proposed, work with McKenzie to acquire necessary property to pave the street along its current path, keeping the trees and satisfying residents other interests; or to go ahead with sewer and water improvements without paving the street.

York, Hobby and council members stated they were like-minded in wanting to save the trees, if a satisfactory solution could be found.