In the next couple of weeks, the city of Stillwater — with a group of volunteers — will plant 31 trees along the Browns Creek Trail and in Lowell Park.
On Tuesday night, Ward 2 Council Member Dave Junker cast the lone vote in opposition to the tree-planting plan, saying the proposal needs more review.
“This is moving pretty quick,” Junker said. “To plant 31 trees in Lowell Park is a pretty big change. I saw this in a staff report for five seconds. I didn’t realize we were on the fast track to get them planted in September. ”
The council first saw the plan two weeks ago during a staff report, when Council Member Mike Polehna said a volunteer landscaping architect drew up the plans and the 31 trees may be donated.
Since then, Polehna said the donation for the trees fell through. So on Tuesday, the council on a 4-1 vote authorized the expense of $3,957 to purchase 31 trees.
“Putting 31 trees in Lowell Park is a big step,” Junker said.
Stillwater Mayor Ted Kozlowski agreed.
“I didn’t realize we were approving a plan of where to put them,” Kozlowski said.
Polehna said what the council saw at the last meeting was a concept that will be adjusted.
“I’m looking for input from a lot more people and all of a sudden, a couple of people lay out a game plan for 31 trees in Lowell Park,” Junker said.”
Polehna said he has spoken with the Downtown IBA, and had a meeting with residents in The Lofts on Wednesday night. The IBA was supportive of the idea, he said. The proposal was also endorsed by the Parks Commission.
“If you say to anyone, hey, let’s put some trees in Lowell Park, it sounds like a decent idea,” Junker said. “But adding 31 trees, in my opinion, is a drastic change.”
It’s the city’s park, and it’s in desperate need for some shade, Polehna said.
“Historically, that place was a jungle compared to what we’re doing,” Polehna added. “We’re going to open up the views right to the river.”
Junker said if he wants to look at trees, he’ll look at Wisconsin.
“I want to look at the river and the bridge,” Junker said. “What I’m saying is this is a big step. Thirty-one trees are going to grow into 31 trees that are going to be there for 200 years.
“We just talked at the last council meeting that we want to remove the power poles, and the main reason is aesthetics,” Junker continued. “So we want to get rid of wooden power poles so people can see better, but we’re going to replace it with 31 trees that aesthetically block views as well.”
“I’m not sure that removing power poles and power lines and adding trees doesn’t beautify an area. It’s the overall aesthetics of the park other than how it sits today. I understand you don’t like trees, but I do like to look at trees and we can beg to differ on trees.”
“Last meeting the design plan and the trees were all donated,” Junker said. “This is a long-term layout, and all of a sudden it’s thrown up at us in two weeks, and now they’re going to be planted in two weeks.
The tree-planting plan calls for four different species of trees to be planted in different areas between Laurel Street and the Pedestrian Plaza.
The first part of the plan is to plant a series of 21 redbud trees — that grow to be about 20 feet tall — along the bike trail between Laurel and Mulberry streets.
“The plan is to plant the trees so when the corridor opens up you see the steeples for the courthouse and the church,” Sanders said. “The way the plan is done, it acts like an entryway to the city.”
The second part of the plan calls for the planting of three species of trees between Mulberry Street and the Pedestrian Plaza.
A series of Red Maple trees — that grow to be about 50 feet tall — will be scattered in Mulberry Circle. Nine Pin Oaks will be planted at Mulberry Point — and 10 Swamp Oaks will be planted along the bike trail between Mulberry and the Pedestrian Plaza at Commercial Street.
“The idea when we were working on the plan was to have view-sheds through the trees to the river,” Polehna said when discussing the plan two weeks ago. “We did not want to destroy the view-shed for the residents — we wanted to make sure people could always see through the trees to the river.”
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