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La Veta’s big tree controversy

by Reed White
LA VETA — For the last several weeks in La Veta, controversy has been brewing between two arms of town government, each with different missions and objectives. Resolution inched forward at an open town meeting at the community center on July 23, 2012.
The Streets and Alleys Committee is working to solve an expansive drainage problem. Part of its solution includes cutting down one or more 100-year-old cottonwood trees near the edge of a city street right-of-way.
The tree committee would like to see the drainage problem solved without sacrificing healthy city-owned roadside trees.
As part of the drainage project, the Streets and Alleys Committee intends to widen Poplar Street. When asked if the project could be done in a manner not requiring removal of the trees, Trustee Dale Davis answered, “In my opinion, no.”
Trustee Ken Saydak and Chip Kraynyk said the trees have significant value to the community. They believe every effort should be made to have the street “skirt around” the trees. In other words, route the proposed 50-foot wide road beside the trees while staying within the 80-foot city right-of-way. Several residents who live close to the trees prefer that the street follow the centerline.
Of the approximately thirty non-board attendees, three want the trees removed. Most people wish to keep the trees if they are as healthy as the certified tree expert has determined, and if the drainage problem can be solved without their removal.
The meeting ended with no final resolution, but with agreement that C.K. Morey, Colorado State Forest Service representative, would core the trees as further verification of their health, and that a centerline would be marked on the road right-of-way.
By the time these action items are completed, cost estimates for the various alternatives may be available.