McMinnville officials found it difficult to uproot a line of magnolia trees in downtown McMinnville. A committee was unable to decide their fate Tuesday night and sent the measure to the full board for its consideration.
Allowing the destiny of the trees to be placed in the hands of the full board were Street and Sanitation Committee members Rick Barnes, Billy Wood and Jimmy Bonner, who were deadlocked on the measure.
“I wouldn’t be opposed to taking them out if we put trees back in their place,” said Barnes. “I would like to leave at least one of them. That wouldn’t be too bad.”
Wood made a motion to remove all the magnolias and replace them with Zelkova trees, which were recommended by landscape manager Hank Patton.
“I can’t go with that,” he said. “I like the trees. I just don’t see taking them down.”
The stalemate in committee came after a recommendation to remove the trees was made by McMinnville Public Works director Bill Brock and Patton.
“As you know, we are re-doing the parking lots and we are trying to do some clean up of the area,” said Brock.
Also involved in the work will be moving the dumpsters and building a decorative wall to hide their presence. The city will also improve the curbing and remove any overgrowth between private property and the parking area.
“I’ve talked to some business owners around there and they are thrilled about it,” said Brock. “The one thing we have looked at are the magnolia trees. Magnolia trees are beautiful trees. I have no problem with magnolias, other than them being around where pedestrians are or where cars are.”
Brock says the trees create a hazardous mess 365 days a year with limbs, leaves and pods.
“The pods fall off and never rot. The leaves fall and they never rot. I’ve had complaints from people who have stepped on the pods and have wobbled. We’ve tried to clean those up. It’s impossible to keep clean.”
Patton says he would like to plant Zelkova, which is a vase-shaped tree that tolerates urban conditions well and is suitable for use along streets and in parking lots.
“We have the worst time with those magnolias,” said Patton. “With the new parking lot, we thought now would be a good time to get rid of them. New parking lot, new trees and the mess is gone. If you get a good parking lot tree that drops leaves once a year, you can make the area look a lot prettier.”
Zelkova have rapid growth. The replacement trees will be approximately 12 feet tall and will reach between 50-75 feet high.
When it comes to leaving one magnolia, Patton would rather not.
“It would be better if they were all gone,” said Patton. “They are beautiful, if they are in the right place.”
Barnes agreed. “That’s in your neighbor’s yard. That’s the perfect place for them.”
The measure will be presented to the full board during its next meeting June 11.