Waldo, Brookside residents sad to see dozens of neighborhoods’ mature trees cut down

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Some Waldo and Brookside residents are upset after a bunch of mature trees were recently chopped down. The city says it had to happen to make improvements residents citywide are asking for.

The landscape of a pristine Waldo neighborhood along East 74th Street is changing.

“I walked outside and my tree wasn't here that'd been there my whole life, and it kind of caught me off guard," resident Nik Hilfenani said. "Then I looked down the block and saw them cutting down all the neighbor`s trees also."

Just shy of a year ago, Kansas Citians voted "yes" to the city issuing “GO bonds" to improve infrastructure, including sidewalks, citywide.

“We had a backlog of 311 requests for repairs back to when it was up to property owners to do those repairs," KC Public Works spokesperson Beth Breitenstein said. "The city`s taken that burden off of property owners and is now taking funding repairs citywide."

The problem is that in a few neighborhoods, trees had taken over, shoving some sidewalks out of whack and crumbling other walkways to bits.

“In the city right of way, we do find some instances where we have to remove trees in order to keep that sidewalk repair in place, make the repair, make it a sustainable long-lasting repair,” Breitenstein said.

While it's a shock to the system in established neighborhoods with a ton of mature trees, there are a couple of upsides.

For every one tree removed, the city's committed to planting two new ones in its place somewhere in the community. And soon, the former trip hazard trails will become smooth walkable surfaces.

“It`ll be nice having better sidewalks. That is an improvement,” Hilfenani said.

The city said it doesn't know for sure yet how many trees will need to be removed to make way for sidewalk repairs and replacements. But it works with the parks department to limit the damage and determine the best places to plant new trees.