Downtown trees will be missed

I was just as surprised as most people were in Fort Frances when the community learned that the trees on the 200 block of Scott Street were going to be removed.
I sat on town council back in the early 1980s when the decision to plant trees along the street was made to enhance its beauty.
I’m told the trees along the street will not be replaced.
Several decisions were made at that time. There was the removal of the parking meters that cost the community more than $30,000 in revenue.
The “Voyageur Village” chose lighting, with the assistance of the consultants, that was lower than the traditional street lights but had a warm glow that psychologists said made for a more inviting atmosphere for pedestrians.
Eventually, that same style of lighting was used along the riverfront here.
The trees were planted to add a degree of shaded comfort throughout the spring and summer, and colour in late September and early October.
For the first several years, there was a constant battle with vandalism as trees were snapped off and had to be replaced. The merchants who paid for the trees replaced them and put tall grates up to protect them.
During the Christmas season, white lights were hung around the trees, making for an inviting downtown.
The trees regularly were trimmed back.
Prior to the trees being put in place, large planter boxes were positioned on Scott Street with trees and flowers in them. In the spring, they would be moved out from storage and then in the fall, they would return to storage so snow removal could take place as crews worked around parking meters.
With the trees in place and the parking meters gone, snow removal actually became easier.
The downside of the trees is that after more than 30 years, their trunks and roots are lifting the sidewalk. That was expected, and it was known that most of the trees would have to be replaced every 25 years and the interlocking paving stones would accommodate that much easier.
A forester offered some advice last week that if the town was concerned about the impact of roots and trunks, the trees could be planted in containers that rested below the sidewalk.
When the trees matured, it would be less difficult to remove and replace them. A large metal grate that is seen in many cities with tree-lined shopping areas make that job easier and the attractiveness of the street is maintained.
Over the past 30 years, the sidewalks have been torn up several times and then replaced as if nothing had ever happened.
The interlocking stones have proven their value over traditional cement sidewalks, which are more prone to heave and break with changes in the moisture content of the ground that lies beneath the concrete.