Neighborhood trees coming down over tripping hazards

ST. LOUIS COUNTY, MO (KPLR) – Hardly a cloud in the sky Friday, but it almost seemed to be raining in west St. Louis County’s Fox Glen neighborhood between Ballwin and Manchester: raining sawdust.

Neighborhood trees are coming down by the dozen there.

All the trees are healthy. There are residents who want it stopped. Fox 2 News has learned stopping it completely is not an option.

“It breaks, breaks my heart,” said resident George Prsha.

Sixty-nine neighborhood trees are coming down. Orange Xs mark those that have to go. Their roots are pushing up the sidewalks.

“Unfortunately, we’re dealing with a situation where the root system is so pernicious that it’s kicking up sidewalk panels and creating a very real tripping hazard,” said David Wrone, St. Louis County Department of Transportation.

“You can’t just put up a 40-year-old tree overnight,” Prsha said. “One of the reasons why we moved here is because of the mature trees. We wanted to feel like it was kind of a Kirkwood or a Webster Groves.”

Prsha favors keeping the trees and replacing the sidewalks. But county officials said tree removal was more efficient.

This is $1.13 million project. More than $900,000 of that is for curb and sidewalk replacement. Even though all of the trees are in the county right of way, residents have the option of sparing trees in front of their particular homes, even painting over the Xs if they’ve reconsidered.

“It’s not a matter of us swarming in there with chainsaws and clear cutting. Every resident who’s affected gave us their permission,” Wrone said.

“We were given a choice,” said resident Jody Liebman. “They told us they would replace, well not replace the tree, but we had a list of bushes and trees we could choose from, that they would plant in the yard afterward; we were fine with that.”

“I can’t understand why there’s not a better solution,” Prsha said. “It definitely doesn’t do homeowners any good.”

He feels mature, healthy, trees add to property values.

Opponents sent out orange ribbons urging residents to put them around their trees to save them and show solidarity.

There are a few ribbons but a lot more orange Xs.