Visitors downtown will notice several holes in the ground. The holes are left from trees that were previously in planters along the sidewalks flanking Main Street.
Urban Forestry, a division under McMinnville Public Works Department director Bill Brock, discovered a small problem with the shallow root systems of several trees at the beginning of the year.
Maple trees, as well as other types of trees, were planted in beds along Main Street. The beds are inside concrete curbs that stick up along the sidewalk. The curb goes underground about 16 inches.
According to Brock, the curb has prevented the roots from spreading.
Brock said the maple trees’ root system grew out, hit the concrete and came back, causing the roots to bunch up and bulge out of the tops of the planters.
Brock said in January, “The trees are alive because the city is feeding them through a sprinkler system. The roots bunching up are strangling the irrigation lines. It’s cutting into them. I’ve talked to some nurserymen about what we can expect. What I’m told is they will die if the water is ever cut off to them. And, without roots to stabilize them, a good wind could bring them down.”
Brock said the only solution was to systematically remove the trees that are having root system problems and replace them with native trees that have a deeper root system.
Several trees have recently been dug up and removed from downtown leaving planters with deep holes in the dirt.
“We are waiting on our dirt contractor to get dirt. We want to get real good soil. It has been too wet lately. As soon as we get the soil in, we will get the trees. We are trying to stay with native trees to the area,” said Brock.
Brock said no more trees will be removed from downtown at this time.
“We will examine the trees from year to year and see if they are root bound. We will then decide if they need to be replaced at that time,” said Brock.