Groups seek consensus on city trees

| March 2, 2017 | 0 Comments

TREE ROOTS damage sidewalks and plumbing says property owners.

The Larchmont Village Business Improvement District (BID) is reaching out to neighborhood groups to seek consensus on a plan to remove and replace the 38 ficus trees lining Larchmont Blvd.

The Larchmont Village BID, a group consisting of property owners on the Boulevard, want to address the issue of damaged plumbing and busted sidewalks caused by the ficus trees’ roots.

BID’s approach

At a community meeting in January, hosted at Vernetti restaurant, BID executives had their consultant, arborist Greg Monfette of Tree Case Management, present his conclusions.

Monfette’s approach proposed a process of “rotational management,” which includes replacing the worst trees first, then gradually replacing the remaining trees — all at the expense of property owners.

Three trees were identified as among those to be removed first — two in front of Rite Aid and the third further south, in front of Blue Mercury and Sam’s Bagels.

The property owner representatives, Ronald Simms, Tom Kneafsey, and possibly Michael Mizrahi, apparently have agreed to pay for the trees’ removal and replacement. The property owners’ proposal for the replacements, whose exact variety is to be determined, is for 24-36” box trees, placed in 5’ x 6’ cutouts, surrounded by root barriers.

Not so fast

Following that meeting, the Windsor Square Association (WSA), in a letter to Councilman Ryu, asked that the city not issue any permits to remove the trees without a strong community consensus.

“Our association believes the city should not be hasty regarding any of these ficus trees, so as to avoid irreparable harm that would come from removing them,” wrote WSA president Larry Guzin.

“Clearly, a community consensus is needed to plan for the future of Larchmont Village parkway trees,” he added.

Guzin’s letter notes how the beloved trees give character to the shopping district, creating a village ambiance, and provide dense shade to cool and protect the sidewalks.

“There is plenty of time for stakeholders to proceed thoughtfully to reach a consensus on a good plan,” wrote Guzin.

Co-executive director of Larchmont Village BID, Heather Boylston, told the Chronicle that she is trying to do just that. She met with the Larchmont Village Neighborhood Association (LVNA) in February, and will soon meet with the WSA.

“We will continue to work with the neighborhood organizations to make sure everyone understands all the facts, the solutions being offered and the importance of keeping our sidewalks safe for pedestrians while still maintaining our Larchmont canopy of trees,” said Boylston.

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