City explores removing trees

Projects may lead to changes in landscape to install new sidewalks


Ian Smay | The Daily Evergreen

Trees, such as these ones on Main Street, may soon be trimmed or removed to free up space for projects such as a new fountain.

MAGGIE QUINLAN, Evergreen reporter

As part of a proposal to improve Pullman’s downtown, the trees lining Main Street could be removed in the next few years.

These nearly 20-year-old trees’ roots cause issues with the sidewalks, Parks Director Alan Davis said, but new trees would come with their own set of problems.

“When the street trees go in and they’re small, they’re an issue because they cover up the storefronts and the awnings,” Davis said. “Then when they get big, they’re a problem because the roots cause issues with sidewalks.”

The potential tree removal or replacement would be part of a holistic master plan to improve the Pullman downtown area, City Supervisor Adam Lincoln said.

“We’ve been working with the downtown business association and we’re at the point where we had a joint meeting where we discussed the needs for a more large-scale plan for downtown rather than picking individual projects and running with them,” Lincoln said.

Despite coming changes, the trees could stay, he said.

“It’s quite possible that the look and feel of the trees that are down there right now already fall in line with what would be proposed in a plan like that,” Lincoln said.

However, Davis thinks the trees need to be removed or altered from their current state, as the trees could interfere with the introduction of new brickwork, stamp concrete and ornate street lamps that have been proposed.

“That whole kind of infrastructure would literally tear up a block at a time,” Davis said.  “There would be no way to retain the trees that are there.”

The large trees on the High Street would likely need to be removed to allow for a proposed fountain in that space as well, he said.  Overall, the first phase of this proposal would cost a little over $1 million.

No decision has been made, but Davis said he believes it could be determined in the middle of next year.

“When we start talking about what we want the look and feel to be, we’ll probably have a consultant that will help us lead that,” Lincoln said. “We’ll have lots of meetings with the business owners to get their feedback on what is it that they hope to see downtown.”

Shelby Molinar, store manager at Thomas Hammer, has seen how construction on the Evolve Apartments across the street has affected business. However, she does not think the removal of trees would harm sales.

“I don’t think it would affect our business, but I think that it would be really sad actually,” she said.  “I hate to see trees go.”

At this time the trees’ status hangs in the balance.

“By no means has there been a decision made,” Adam Lincoln said.