Newport btw M-14 & Alexandria

Stopped. Watched. icon

Numerous large city trees being cut down and mulched, according to city crews on the site, to make way for the new sidewalk along Newport. [photo 1] [photo 2] [photo 3] Put another plea into the city forestry department [to try to reclaim the wood], but no word yet. Don’t have much hope.

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  1. By John Floyd
    June 17, 2014 at 2:30 am | permalink

    I heard the chainsaws this afternoon while walking in Bird Hills Park, and wondered what was up.

    Like every other street in Ann Arbor, Newport Rd was laid out when the city was a much, much smaller place. Indeed Newport Rd was a country lane not all that long ago. The current pavement in the Newport right-of-way is inadequate for types and volumes of use to which it is now put – and would be inadequate even if it were a maintained street. In that sense, Newport is no different from Main St., Hill, Packard, Geddes, or any number of other streets in town. Ann Arbor’s streets are inadequate for it to be a major population or economic center. They can’t support their current uses well, let alone the 1/2 million envisioned by the D1 crowd.

    The close-in forest around Newport gives that street its charm. As beautiful a drive as Newport is for the moment, and as ugly as it is to cut down trees of that size and age (70 + years?), something has to give before a child is killed walking to school. Given the close-in forest, it is probably inescapable that some trees will have to go to make the walk/bike ride to school safer, but a proper solution would minimize this damage and avoid cutting the biggest trees. City hall has not recently demonstrated much ability – or interest – in rational updates that keep our town’s good stuff intact. Let’s hope they’ve figured it out here.

  2. June 17, 2014 at 9:27 am | permalink

    But we should have procedures in place to reclaim the wood whenever it is suitable. It’s the sustainable thing to do.

  3. June 17, 2014 at 10:36 am | permalink

    Creating a system for reclaiming wood is in our urban forest plan, but has not yet moved beyond the “put it in the wish list” stage to the best of my knowledge. We can do better than just chipping the wood.

  4. By Lynns
    June 17, 2014 at 4:14 pm | permalink

    Thanks John for trying to put a nice spin on it. I remember looking north from Huron View Blvd. at a beautiful landscape. As kids we protested M-14. Thanks to Mrs. Eunice Hendrix we have Bird Hills Park.

  5. By Deanna Owen
    June 17, 2014 at 7:26 pm | permalink

    If we had received any word at all from the city that our two trees, marked for years were indeed being removed immediately, we would have contacted anyone else. The paved sidewalk does not extend to us, our trees started dying after the city connected us to the water.

    Newport from Riverwood to Alexandria was “repaved” right after the watermain work (’07 or so). The drainage issues weren’t dealt with then, and if Newport is only getting “repaved” again we will be back at this point again sooner with the addition of the sidewalk. There are other places in the city where sidewalks have gone around the trees, so there was little reason to take out the oak tree at the bus stop.

    The city should have had Riverwood’s developer build a sidewalk to Wines way back when. Hopefully, they will add filling “sidewalk gaps” to approving future development plans. The unpaved pathway that is actually along both sides of the rest of the road needs to start being maintained again. Like Newport, Riverwood also has students pass through to school. I hope that neighborhood will also do more to maintain their sidewalks than has occurred in previous winters.

  6. June 17, 2014 at 11:09 pm | permalink

    Ok… now for the update on the status of the trees felled on Newport. I spoke with the head of Ann Arbor’s forestry dept first thing this morning and was told it was ok with them to take the butt logs left behind at the corner of Newport and Miller. However, they were no longer the cities property as they were part of the contract with the tree service that removed them. He gave me their contact info and I was off to the next person. I was able to get a hold of the point person at the tree service and she informed me that they would be fine with us removing the butt logs instead of them coming back from Attica to pick them up and chip them offsite as they were too large to chip on site (a savings to them). They approved it as long as it was done with professional equipment and did not interfere at all with any of the work going on there. Luckily, our urban mill, Tervol’s Wood Products, was in town today with their flatbed and large winch.

    The next step was to speak with Mark, the site supervisor for Barrett, the contractor in charge of the entire thing. He was initially a bit standoffish, not really but cannot think of a better way to describe it. He simply asked me a lot of questions, as to who I had talked to, who approved what. He wanted to make absolutely sure that we knew what were getting into and could truly handle the loading and handling of these large trees. Once I informed him of our experience and equipment, even showed him a video of Tervol’s unloading a 5 1/2′ diameter by 16 foot oak. He then completely opened up and was beyond helpful in making this work so we could salvage the logs that could be salvaged. Out of the dozen or so logs in the two stacks only 3 were of any quality to salvage and all 3 will be tough to process due to the amount of limbs they had and the twisting. We did get the two sections of the larger Pin Oak and the bottom of the Hard Maple which was in front of one of the houses between Riverwood and Alexandria. The Pin Oak can only be turned into slabs due to the high level of structural stress from all the limbs. The Hard Maple will also become slabs for furniture for the same reason. The Maple had a good amount of visible spalting in it which is very desirable but also very sketchy as you really do not know if it is rotted out until you cut it into slabs.

    @ John, the chainsaws you heard today (though the stump grinders were going as well) were from us trying to cut down the limb stumps on the logs further so we could actually get them on the trailer. With all the major protrusions ever couple of feet, it is extremely tough to load. After a good amount of heavy maneuvering and sweat, we were able to get them aboard and off to the mill.

    The two oak sections will go to Tervol’s for all their labor and we at Urban Ashes will get the Maple. We will be donating a portion of the processed lumber back to the home owner. She does not know that yet. She too had tried to get part of the two dead maple from her the city extension in front of her house, but with no success. The second maple from there was completely rotted and not salvageable. It was standing dead for too long.

    Personally, I feel there are two major things to get out of this story. One… that if the City had given even a tiny amount of direction to the contractors who were awarded the job as to what they might, could or should do with any of the salvageable logs, this would have been a whole lot easier. There are many professional urban salvage services available in the Ann Arbor area. In fact, The Urban Wood Project is one of the nations leaders in this. The second thing I learned is that everyone from the city forestry dept. to the tree service to the general contractor were extremely helpful, cooperative and even happy to see these logs put to a higher use beyond mulch.

    @ Chuck… you are correct, in that salvaging urban trees beyond mulching all of them, is in the city forestry management plan adopted only a couple of weeks ago. It barely made it in there and I and those at the Urban Wood Project are concerned that it will swiftly be swept under the rug. However, we also feel that this is such a simple thing to do, low hanging fruit if you will. With a little push and direction at the city level, all the players needed to safely salvage our fallen city trees can happen pretty easily. It just requires some communication. This would most likely save the city some funds as they have to pay to dispose of these fallen trees. Salvaging them costs them nothing.

    One other thing to throw out there that I hope everyone understands, even though Urban Ashes and Tervol’s wood products did not pay anything to recover these very marginal trees, the majority of the value in the end product is all the labor and processing that is required to deal with urban trees and taking them to useable lumber. They are much lower grade, twisted, they are often loaded with metal and spending 12 man hours to salvage 3 urban trees is crazy… but it is the right thing to do.

    I hope that all the readers of The Ann Arbor Chronicle will ask their city council people and our mayor as well as those running for office, to consider this simple option to salvage our fallen trees and not simply mulch everything like they have done for decades and continue to do. There are countless entities out there who can put these to much much better use and provide many many more local jobs in processing them than the few seconds of labor it takes to push a button and watch an 80 year old tree be destroyed.

    Needless to say, it looks like a nice success so far… lets hope the logs hold up in processing and we see many more trees kept from the landfill and mulch piles.

    Sorry … yes this is personal

  7. June 17, 2014 at 11:19 pm | permalink

    Thanks for this glimpse into the gnarly practicalities of this, Paul.